What lies in store for businesses over the next 12 months? I’ll stick my neck out with the following predictions:
Business responsibility in a 24/7 economy
This year marks a new era for data management. With the rise of the web and more information being available to customers online, organisations are increasingly more culpable for the data that they provide. With the Information Commissioner’s Office now able to issue huge fines for data protection offences in the UK, Master Data Management will come firmly into its own in 2011. Ten years ago data quality was significantly neglected, but over the past couple of years we have seen a real shift in focus. The explosive growth of the digital universe is instrumental in forcing companies to take responsibility for their data. Businesses are beginning to recognise the strategic value of timely, relevant and accurate data and will continue to focus on this as we move into 2011.
Data driving new conversations
Social media applications are becoming increasingly more important for businesses as a means of reaching potential customers. In 2011, we will see business engagement with social networks move to another level. Over the past 18 months one of the biggest challenges for many companies has been to take tentative steps into the world of social media and create a brand presence. The next challenge will be to find effective ways to analyse the data they are now able to gather from these communities in more sophisticated and intelligent ways. As businesses look for different ways to connect with customers, they will begin to seek out new platforms in order to understand the reams of social media data, better manage their brand and improve customer satisfaction.
The data deluge
The digital universe is constantly expanding and in 2011 the increasing need for enterprises to get their houses in order will become more pressing, as even the smallest day-to-day activities become business transactions. In the past when you drove through a toll road, you would put a coin in a basket – now that data is stored. If you bought groceries in a shop, you would pay cash when making a purchase – now we use our debit or credit cards, and that data is stored. You might call someone to say good morning but now you can Tweet or instant message to have your conversations – and that data is also stored. All of this data has to be sorted and managed in the right way, if it is to maintain any kind of value. Businesses must get smarter when it comes to managing their data assets, if they are going to be able to survive the data explosion.
Cost saving still front of mind
We may be through the worst of the recession, but cost saving will remain front of mind for businesses in 2011. We’ve been seeing an increasing demand within our customer base for the consolidation of systems, the removal of un-used applications and a general spring clean of their corporate networks. During this year’s government budget announcement, the chancellor made it clear that IT would be central to cost reductions in both business and public sector organisations. To make this work, businesses must look to integrate disparate systems and databases in a way that provides them a comprehensive view of their organisation and enables them to better identify business opportunities. It will be those companies that act quickly to get their houses in order that will reap the real rewards in the coming 12 months and beyond.
With 320,000 people from around the world expected to travel to London for the 2012 Olympic Games, 2011 will be a critical time for event organisers. Security is undoubtedly top of the agenda and a global effort is required to manage it effectively. Government and security organisations around the world must ensure real-time access to the right information in order to yield actionable, intelligence identity resolution technology. This will enable organisations to search, find, match and group identity data, so that disparate data sources can be connected in order to identify matches and relationships. Governments must be able to “connect the dots” to be able to respond to potential public safety threats before they occur.
Up in the clouds
The cloud is no longer a new concept to businesses. It is has become an integrated element of enterprise IT structure and must be treated as such. During 2011, data will continue to make the move to the cloud and it is essential that companies continue to align their data management strategies with this growing trend. Cloud technology is an ingrained element of business infrastructure which must be treated with the same level of investment and co-ordination as on-premise data bases. Private clouds are an entrenched technology but as data moves beyond the firewall, in order to retain control and realise the benefits of the cloud, companies need to avoid business and IT interests taking different paths. Alignment is key to keeping data integrated and in sync so business users know they can trust the data to be relevant and accurate.