If you want to apply a guiding maxim to today’s business world, try “thou shall become data-driven.” That’s because we’re constantly generating ever-greater volumes of information. By one estimate, there are already 40 times more bytes than there are stars in the observable universe. But to extract value from that trove of data, companies need to access the right services and technologies that will support a digital asset service business model, allowing them to realize outcomes faster than ever before.
Let’s consider the experience of Sestra Systems, an example of innovation within the otherwise-antiquated food and beverage industry. The company’s TapWise solution turns beverage taps into IoT-connected devices. They provide a perfect pour while preventing spillage in restaurants, small hotels, large stadiums and other locales with thirsty customers.
Sestra uses Amazon Web Services in conjunction with cloud services from Hitachi Vantara to connect devices to the network so its customers can sync and aggregate data when they go online. For example, a customer can get notifications that they need to change a keg to maintain a seamless pouring experience, even in environments like cruise ships where there isn’t constant connectivity.
This continuation of the “everything-as-a-service” trend underscores how cloud technology is redefining virtually every industry and activity, down to tapping a simple keg. This is only one example of how digital organizations find new ways to make better sense of information to improve their businesses. It’s also a representative harbinger pointing to a fast-approaching horizon.
Gaining Strategic Clarity
Studies show that the average business has about nine different clouds composed of services from public hyperscalers, like Amazon and Google, as well as multiple private and SAS clouds. Many companies are now pondering how to best deploy and manage solutions in a multicloud world.
Companies want to leverage IT to get high efficiency, better utilization and improved operations. They need data access at the right place with the right performance. They must have the ability to integrate new data sources as they get added.
But data quality is also a major challenge across every industry. In most enterprises, in fact, data is spread across multiple silos. For example, most analysts estimate there are over eight data lakes in any enterprise. Data integration and preparation are critical as the data comes in from multiple sources. Data discovery and data governance are equally important.
More data is expected to shift from centralized analytics to localized analytics. Gartner predicts that “by 2023, over 50% of the primary responsibility of data and analytics leaders will comprise data created, managed, and analyzed in edge environments”.
Given this evolving and complex scenario, companies must have clarity around their strategic intent to take advantage of all the evolving technologies across connectivity, security, data analytics and predictive insights.
Consider Logan Aluminum, one of the largest makers of beverage cans and light gauge aluminum for automotive products in North America. The Kentucky-based company has lots of data from thousands of smart sensors, but the data was siloed and fragmented. As Logan embarked on their digital journey, Hitachi Vantara brought in not just technology but also experts with long-standing industry expertise who helped reform Logan’s culture.
The key is to keep focused on people, business value and change management, rather than the buzzwords and tools. This initiative will help Logan unlock new data insights and realize millions of dollars of value by eliminating data siloes, using machine learning to identify optimal line conditions, and build financial models that accurately predict supply and demand.
The Three Horizons
In their journey to become data-driven, companies may be in three horizons. These horizons are not mutually exclusive. Companies may be dealing with two or all three simultaneously.
Horizon 1: You are looking to keep up with the sheer quantity of data and engineer systems for optimal data system performance.
Horizon 2: You’re looking to create value by engineering wider and better outcomes. You’re looking to go beyond data management and start using data to make decisions and create value, particularly in the core of the business.
Horizon 3: You want to identify what’s next with network data innovation, so you can discover differentiated insights across the value chain and create that next generation of digital products and services.
All three horizons provide opportunities and challenges. Hitachi Vantara can help in all three areas. Our portfolio of data integration and management solutions can assist companies looking to keep up with the data growth. We can provide a data fabric as well as solutions for multicloud environments to help companies that are grappling with data quality and governance challenges. We can help companies develop new technology-based business models and improve existing ones as they strategically move toward the future.
There is definitely a cloud on the horizon, and in this case, that saying is a good thing — as long as you prepare for it smartly.
Radhika Krishnan is Chief Product Officer at Hitachi Vantara.
 Gartner Press Release, “Gartner Identifies Top 10 Data and Analytics Technology Trends for 2021.” 16 March 2021.