Modernizing during disruption

Hema Ganapathy

June 16, 2020industry

Our world today is in a constant state of flux, which causes uncertainty for enterprises. Global influences contributing to this uncertainty include economic volatility, political instability, and worldwide conflicts, all of which have a direct impact on business health. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has had wide-reaching repercussions that businesses are only now beginning to analyze. It is increasingly clear that continued uncertainty is a constant we must all deal with.

Disruption to Business

Uncertainty is causing disruption in every facet of business, from supply chain to customer and employee management. Enterprises are optimizing existing behaviors or adopting completely new ways of doing business to combat disruption. To build for resilience and growth, organizations are:

  • Implementing new business models: Enterprises are adapting products and services to changing demands by expanding sales through digital channels.
  • Mobilizing the workforce: A majority of employees now are working remotely, and organizations are offering increased digital collaboration with 24x7 access to resources, tools, and applications.
  • Embracing data democratization: In uncertain times, businesses need access to even more information and must generate an increased number of reports as they seek to understand how to react to external influences.

Enterprises urgently need insights so they can take correct, timely action, which means data must be shared unencumbered across organizational boundaries.

As online and distributed business systems are more widely used, the supporting technology infrastructures are being stretched to their limits. And although it may seem counterintuitive to think about modernizing the infrastructure during a time of disruption, this is exactly the time to take a close look at what’s not working and address the issues that are hindering business flexibility and resiliency in changing times. “The pressure to continue innovation, recession or not, is ever-present,” writes Samantha Ann Schwartz in CIODive. She cites Chris Stephenson, national managing principal of Grant Thornton’s Financial Management practice, as indicating that “a slower tech refresh cycle is being challenged by emerging technologies with speedy implementation, like robotic process automation, machine learning, and advanced analytics.”

Now is the time to consider modern systems that can respond to any situation, at any time, quickly—without causing additional disruption. In today’s world, timely insights can make or break a business because the question that can’t be imagined today is the answer that’s needed for tomorrow.

Modernization is a daunting task, and enterprises struggle to determine where to place their focus. Here are five key considerations when embarking on the modernization journey:

Five Considerations for Modernization

Figure 1: Five considerations for modernization

1. Agility

In times of disruption, businesses must be more agile and have the ability to deal seamlessly with new data sources and analytics. Agility means extracting data from wherever it’s stored and being able to process it where the business needs it most—either on premises, in the public cloud, or with a hybrid cloud. Part of the modernization journey is to distribute workloads, migrating noncritical workloads to the public cloud while keeping mission-critical workloads on premises. This approach allows enterprises to modernize at their own pace with a hybrid solution that optimally leverages the cloud and on-premises solutions.

2. Data Availability

The way to manage disruption is to impose some order—any kind of order—to the information received. It’s paramount for enterprises to understand what’s trending, what’s historical, and what can be reliably predicted based on the available data. A much larger scale of data is needed than before, but that data is ever-changing, and enterprises must be able to access it at their fingertips. One way to make data more available is to configure data consumption zones in the enterprise environment to enable data access based on functions, technology, or business groups.

3. Data Awareness

A query result is only as good as the integrity of the underlying data. Confusing data from unverified sources leads to ill-informed decisions, making organizations unprepared for rebound and growth. With data awareness, enterprises know where their data is coming from and can ensure they are adhering to compliance regulations. Applicable rules cannot be applied if the source of data is not known. Good data awareness avoids the pitfall of data duplication so analysts are not repeatedly transforming and loading data. Enterprises need to consider implementations that offer high-performance capacity and enable accelerated queries.

4. Workforce

Employee mobilization is prompting a larger number of users to work remotely. This leads to hard-to-predict workloads and queries coming from a wide variety of locations. Users need the ability to plug into existing BI tools while leveraging their existing skill sets to minimize any additional disruption to the organization.

5. Business Continuity

In this new normal, business continuity and data continuity are synonymous, because enterprises are reliant on their data to navigate uncertainty. It’s critical to analyze broader sets of data, and business modeling is needed during times of disruption. Access to a reliable predictive analytics tier is an integral component of a successful enterprise business.

As enterprises begin their modernization journey, embracing innovation is the best way forward to ensure the infrastructure, applications, insights, and data are primed and ready to respond to any situation.

This blog is Part 1 of a three-part series on modernization during disruption. Part 2 covers what enterprises need to consider to implement agility and data awareness in the data warehouse environment. Come back to www.yellowbrick.com to read more.