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Three major data management trends for the 2020s

(Image credit: Image Credit: Billion Photos / Shutterstock)

Not only have we started a new year, we’re embarking on a new decade - and with that comes the promise of a fresh ten years for technological advancement, business growth and information and data expansion. If the 2010s taught us anything it’s that business, and even more specifically, people, are consistently moving at an increasingly quicker pace, and the amount of data we are creating increases exponentially by the day.

When it comes to long term business success, whoever is best harnessing the data, especially as it increases, and whoever is able to get data management and analytics right, will be at the forefront of industry transformation. As we enter this new decade, access to data, the ability to go serverless and diverse data environments are key trends kicking us off.

The democratisation of access to data across organisations

Looking back over the past decade, the emergence of Tableau started a wave of disruption across organisations, completely changing who could access data and how. Data analytics teams were no longer dependent on IT alone to access useful data sets, and robust, web-based user interfaces made it easier than ever before for anyone in the organisation to explore data and pull key insights. Since then, the democratisation of access to insights from data has accelerated, while subsequent innovators on the visualisation front, like Looker, continue to innovate new user interfaces.

As we move into this new decade, we expect access to and power over data to extend beyond the IT function and into all parts of the analytics stack, as more individuals outside of the traditional data department of an organisation become exposed to various data sets. As the provisioning of analytics databases has become much easier and less demanding of traditional technical skills, the wide-spread implementation of easy-to-use, drag-and-drop interfaces, combined with the instant availability of cloud-based services, is driving a major shift in how data will be accessed and used. A new class of enterprise data wranglers, those who understand how to orchestrate the flow of data to drive better business outcomes, are emerging within organisations, making the need for more seamless access to data across the business a must have, rather than a nice to have.

IT teams want the freedom to go serverless

Under the mantra “pay only for what you use,” a growing number of IT teams are choosing vendors and technologies that provide billing under a “serverless” model. As more companies undergo digital transformation and remote work continues to increase in popularity, access to data in a variety of environments is essential. When connections are core to your business experience, going serverless will continue becoming mainstream over the next few years as it provides flexible access to data, and is better able to ensure quality service, performance and communication among teams.

As more businesses embrace serverless, we can expect to see greater use of this technology in high-tech manufacturing, transportation and logistics. Additional areas where this could be improved are airline flight services, transoceanic cargo shipping and some defense and intelligence use cases. Speed, efficiency and value across operations are all areas within these industries where going serverless will have the most benefit. There’s an increasing amount of data to be mined, but that volume is often on an up and down trajectory. With more flexibility and real-time, anywhere access, these industries can expand their growth strategies and employ a team literally anywhere in the world.

Diverse data needs mean we’ll never be 100 per cent in the cloud – and that’s OK

The truth is this: data is and will continue to be housed in diverse environments such as traditional servers, the cloud, or in hybrid environments. Data is diverse, so the way it is collected, stored and managed can’t necessarily be contained to any kind of “magic bullet” solution. A good example is NASA’s supercomputer in Mountain View, CA, named Aitken. While NASA is hardly the poster child for enterprise analytics needs, Aitken brings forward a new meaning for the future of the on-premise data centre. At the end of the day, there will always be something about servers you own that satisfies any organisation’s deeply seated IT imperative of control.

Over the past several years, the move to the cloud seemed like a foregone conclusion for any brand wanting to propel itself into the future of how business is run. However, new customer data privacy regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA, are driving more brands to keep certain data on premise for compliance reasons. These regulations are driving a new, transformative movement, one that’s pushing brands to become more responsible custodians of their customer data, as regulations like the CCPA expand the rights of consumers. Specifically, consumers are increasingly taking advantage of their right to transparency and using this knowledge of what and how data is being collected about them to make more educated choices about what they choose to share online and with brands as well as how, or even if, they want that information shared elsewhere.

Data privacy regulation compliance in and of itself is a matter of control organisations need to wrap their heads around, and for this reason on premise will remain in the mix for the foreseeable future. Rather than being 100 per cent in the cloud, we’ll see more and more companies opt for hybrid environments (a combined cloud and on-premise approach) in their analytics roadmaps this year and beyond.

One of the most important overall trends today is that the changing pace of business and continual advancements in technology further push our desire to do more and new things with data. What was speculative a few years ago - and impossible even a few years before that - is quickly becoming a large part of what's propelling enterprises forward. As companies continue on their business transformation journeys, an endless supply of data is at every turn. What we know for sure is that if the 2020s are anything like the 2010s, we’ll be looking at a completely different data, and business, landscape heading into 2030 – check back in with us then!

Jack Mardack, VP, Actian

Jack Mardack is a VP at Actian. An expert in strategic analytics at B2B software companies, Jack has built and scaled the marketing and analytics functions at several SaaS companies including, Eventbrite, Prezi, and the Vonage API Platform. He resides in San Francisco, CA.