Eight experts weigh in on what the new year holds for digitalization and data management trends and enterprise wish lists.

In a world where the movement of data is constant, an organization becomes a sitting duck if its data stands still.

Delivering a superior customer experience relies on data, or more specifically, the movement of data. As one person—Damien Wong, Vice President of Confluent APAC—put it: “Objects at rest stay at rest, but objects in motion keep on moving, sparking action and, in turn, reaction. In a world where everything is in motion, if a company’s data stays still, then their customer experience, goals and business will too.”

According to Wong, when an organization’s data is constantly moving, every interaction will trigger actions across the business, allowing it to respond in real-time. In this new year, transforming into this paradigm of data in motion will be critical to organizations if they want to thrive in an increasingly digital world.

“As we head into 2022, the challenge for organizations is how they can take these learnings and use them to achieve success in the new year and beyond,” said Wong.

Resolutions for 2022

To get a feel for what IT professionals expect in the new year, DigiconAsia gathered ideas and opinions from seven other senior executives in the industry.

First off, Rachel Ler, Vice President & General Manager, Commvault (APAC), touched on data sprawl due to the current work-from-home imperatives. “Hybrid work and Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) practices have created a data sprawl that companies must manage sooner than later. Enterprises will be looking into data management and protection strategies that can help them ensure that data generated by remote workers is safe guarded, is in line with compliance, and is accessible across applications and business units so that it is effectively harnessed for business decision making.”

Echoing this sentiment is George Lee, Regional Vice President (Asia Pacific and Japan), Imperva: “Today data is being stored and accessed via multiple devices, locations and applications, making it harder to manage, track and report on. In 2022, we’ll see organizations expand their focus to securing critical business data stores—especially databases. Savvy organizations will also connect data protection with data privacy compliance, streamlining the task of discovering, identifying and protecting personal data, while minimizing the manual processes required to maintain continuous compliance to save time and money.

To this end, more organizations will be looking to store and share data in one unified infrastructure. According to Ravi Shankar, Senior Vice President, Denodo, noted that such a unified data infrastructure can span on-premises, single cloud, multi-cloud, hybrid-cloud, or a combination of these, spread across regional boundaries with no single solution to knit these data together.

“As organizations grow in size and complexity, central data teams are forced to deal with a wide array of functional units and associated data consumers. This makes it difficult to understand the data requirements for all cross functional teams and offer the right set of data products to their consumers,” Shankar said.

To him, a data fabric and a data mesh architecture are the solutions to keep all that data in one unified infrastructure and to automate many of the tasks revolving around that data. “Data mesh is a new decentralized data architecture approach for data analytics that aims to remove bottlenecks and take data decisions closer to those who understand the data. In 2022 and beyond, larger organizations with distributed data environments will implement a data mesh architecture to minimize data silos, avoid duplication of effort, and ensure consistency. Data mesh will create a unified infrastructure enabling domains to create and share data products while enforcing standards for interoperability, quality, governance, and security,” Shankar felt.

According to Barr Moses, CEO and co-founder, Monte Carlo, the data mesh is, in many ways, the data platform version of micro services. A data mesh supports distributed, domain-specific data consumers and views data-as-a-product, with each domain handling its own data pipelines. The tissue connecting these domains and their associated data assets is a universal interoperability layer that applies the same syntax and data standards.

“Each domain is responsible for owning its ETL pipelines, but a set of capabilities applied to all domains that stores, catalogs, and maintains access controls for the raw data. Once data has been served to and transformed by a given domain, the domain owners can then leverage the data for their analytics or operational needs,” said Moses.

Data analytics for personalization

For his new year vision, Julio Bermudez, Vice President (APAC and Latin America), Amplitude felt that personalized digital products and privacy can co-exist. In his view, that co-existence will become more visible in 2022 and beyond: “More businesses will see privacy-centric personalization as a competitive differentiator. This will be the year privacy goes from talk to action.”

This view was also shared by Denodo’s Shankar, who foresees many organizations using small-data analytics to provide personalized digital products. “This year, organizations will leverage small-data analytics to create hyper personalized experiences for their individual customers to understand customer sentiment around a specific product or service within a short time window. While wide data analytics is comparatively a new concept and yet to find widespread adoption—given the pace at which organizations are making use of unstructured and structured data together—expect to see small and wide data analytics to gain better traction across organizations.”

Data on the Cloud and the Edge

As the world moves to 5G and beyond, the Internet of Things will cause even more data to be generated and collected at the edge. This will require robust distributed IT infrastructure that can manage and protect data both centrally and at the edge, as far as Matthew Oostveen, Chief Technology Officer & VP, Pure Storage Asia Pacific & Japan, is concerned.

As opposed to cloud computing, edge computing entails data storage closer to the devices where the data is being gathered. Oostveen sees 2022 as a year where even more organizations will put their resources in the Cloud: “We expect to see more automation and orchestration tools to enable organizations to deploy cloud operating models seamlessly. Companies will also become more nuanced in their approach to technology adoption. For the non-core parts of their business, they will opt for speed, resilience and simplicity and opt to consume those technologies as-a-service to enable them to focus most of their effort and capital investments in core areas.”

On the edge side of computing, Shahnawaz Backer, Senior Solution Architect, F5 (Asia Pacific, China and Japan), noted: “While edge computing offers numerous benefits to businesses, it also increases the risks with expanded attack surface. In the coming years, attackers will capitalize on seams at the edge by targeting three aspects: Quantum of sites and devices; gaps introduced in application and network security controls with manual implementation across sites; and lack of observability and central management.

According to Backer, “now is the most apt time to meet the edge security challenges head-on and design proactively. The tenets for securing this transformed compute must include secured communications with sites, uniform security policy enforcement, automation and cross-site observability.”

Finally, one last new year vision involved the IT talent shortage. “As the global economy recovers, the war for talent will result in rising wages. Employees will also start to favor companies that demonstrate a dynamic work culture with flexible work from home policies and sound ESG practices. In the technology space, we expect to see a shortage in talent for technologies such as containers, data analytics and security,” said Pure Storage’s Oostveen.