What lies beneath digital transformation is really the maturity of data management, so say four experts in cloud data integration…

Without further ado, here are the predictions by cloud data integration firm Talend.

Christal Bemont, CEO

  • Leadership roles will shift to include mental health management
    2020 threw curveballs at leaders that had to navigate a pandemic, massive work-from-home transitions, economic uncertainty, social unrest, and increased anxiety among employees. Many expanded their roles to include counseling and opening doors to employees in new ways.
    Leadership roles will shift to include mental health management in job descriptions. The trend toward intentional mental health will not die down with the new year or the pandemic’s end.
    Another important aspect of employee management in 2021 will be for leaders to address expectations around market and societal issues and associated events. Employees are looking to leadership to speak out on issues such as the ethical use of technology, income inequality, diversity, and climate change. 
  • DX will become a responsibility, not just an opportunity
    The pandemic accelerated DX, but also the consequences of not doing it. Employees, consumers and businesses may all rely on the decision made by a single company that could make or break a global system. A single piece of data used in a clinical drug or vaccine trial could be flawed and have disastrous consequences. Businesses will have a responsibility, not just for themselves but for every touchpoint across ecosystems, to make DX a key priority in 2021.  
  • Business metrics will extend to measure data health
    Businesses can measure every aspect of their organizations but the reliability of their data.  A prolonged pandemic in 2021 will further expose the need to mitigate risk and maximize opportunities for businesses. Implementing a measurement of data health that is verifiable and ensures clean, complete and uncompromised data will help businesses confidently make important decisions with speed. With reliable data, organizations will never have a scenario in which their data is like a game of Jenga blocks: one wrong move and the whole thing crashes.  

  • The pace of data innovation will dramatically increase.

It is during the most challenging times that new ideas are born and developed. Technology advancements and the enablement for more data to be transferred at lightening speeds will continue in 2021 as demand for more automation and intelligence drives new use cases. This progress is not just about enabling people and processes to work faster, but also about using data that is reliable and drives better business and personal outcomes. 

Krishna Tammana, CTO

  • The demand for self-serve analytics will accelerate
    As the pandemic continues in 2021, companies will look to further reduce dependencies on IT functions with self-serve analytics. This will help them turn data into valuable, shareable assets more quickly. Remote workforces and online expansions are draining IT resources. Automated data preparation, curation, stewardship, quality controls, and machine learning tools will help to stem the tide of IT demands.  
  • Consumer data rights will build momentum: Adapt or fail!
    Currently state-by-state, in 2021, consumers should have a better handle on the data they are putting out there. For example, CPRA’s “pay for privacy” aspect may create opportunity and act as a privacy incentive for individuals. Companies can easily comply with new governance and privacy laws with the right solutions in place. For example, a consumer and their data can be customized or turned off in the system completely. Doing so will provide better service and a better customer experience. Businesses that adopt quickly will be able to demonstrate the value of sharing data.  
  • Ethical AI will take a key role in product development

Ethical AI is becoming an important issue, but a difficult dilemma to solve. Companies are using data and AI to create solutions, but they may be bypassing human rights in terms of discrimination, surveillance, transparency, privacy, security, freedom of expression, the right to work, and access to public services. 
To avoid increasing reputational, regulatory and legal risks, ethical AI is imperative and will eventually give way to AI policy. AI policy will ensure a high standard of transparency and protective measures for people. In the data sphere, CEOs and CTOs will need to find ways to eliminate bias in algorithms through careful analysis, vetting and programming. 

Lauren Vaccarello, CMO

  • No going back to ‘old-school’-only
    Businesses of all kinds have had to evolve at record speed and move between the digital and real worlds. I predict that this new environment is not temporary. What we will see in 2021 is a true deepening and merging of the analog and digital domains. Your favorite local yoga studio may have started featuring more online options during the pandemic and this will not change. In fact, consumers will begin to expect online or hybrid options ongoing. Before, an online experience was nice to have; now it will be a business requirement to ensure loyalty and success. This will also be the case for retail store shopping: online and in-person options were nice to have, but now they are an expectation of every customer.  

  • Rapid move to data trust
    2020 has cemented the importance of accurate trust through data in real time. I believe that in 2021, the rapid move to trust to data is going to become even more imperative in everything we do, and this goes from gold standard to table stakes.
  • Finding creative ways to maintain marketing connections and engagement
    On the marketing side, 2020 taught has us that we cannot rely on tactics that worked previously. Next year will be no different: marketers will have to keep changing and evolving, assessing how to produce online and offline events and make new connections. We do not know when marketing and sales teams will be able to get back on planes to attend customer meetings or travel to tradeshows and conferences—this will not change any time soon. I think it will challenge everyone to find ways to be inventive in these areas; we will work online a lot and maybe doing so will help us move more quickly than before in order to expedite results and make progress.
  • Live Events vs Virtual Events: striking a balance will be key
    Some cities and countries may be hosting in-person events, while others will not. Live events are really important for marketers, but how can we stay effective without them?
    A balance between a hybrid model and virtual experience will cause marketers to have to spend more time, energy and effort to ensure their content stands out from the pack. We will need to make sure those who attend a virtual event vs those who are in person are equally as meaningful.
    We cannot rely on booth gimmicks and novelties that have traditionally helped us create brand awareness and loyalty. Across the board, the challenge will be to provide a different and more meaningful experience that is better than ever before.

Anne Hardy, CISO

  • Consumer protection protocol becomes a national conversation
    After the CPRA passed, a bill was proposed in Congress to make a national consumer data protection act. Whether or not federal consumer protection legislation is passed, it will be passed in the court of public opinion. The more consumers are made aware of the issue, the more it will benefit enterprises to maintain airtight practices for protecting their consumer data. In 2021, we will see major spending on data management and protection to ensure valuable data does not become a public perception liability.  
  • Business continuity and operational risk management interest takes precedence
    It is not a question of ‘if’ but rather ‘when’, a disaster will strike. Responding to an incident in crisis mode without the benefit of planning, coordination, and testing can result in more downtime; higher recovery hassles; a potential negative impact on brand and reputation; and business loss.
    In 2021, with the continued impact of the pandemic, we are likely to see even more interest from businesses, customers and investors regarding operational risk management, business continuity, and resiliency. 
  • Data security governance is a required and critical building block to threat mitigation
    Until recently, most data governance programs have focused on data flows and analytics without thinking much about security. New data privacy laws and regulations have forced data stakeholders such as CDO, CFO, CISO, and DPO to make data security one of the necessary building blocks of their data governance efforts.
    But data security governance is complex as no single vendor product can implement all required data security governance controls. In 2021, as businesses continue to collect and process more and more data, they will have to figure out how to quickly unify their information so their entire organization is drawing information from a ‘single source of truth’.  
    Next, businesses need to implement and manage their data source through a data protection system with necessary privacy controls in place so that data threats are mitigated. These steps will ensure future business and financial risks are minimized.