Authored by Kim Nilsson, CEO at PeripherAi and member of Corndel’s Data Board
Especially during the last couple of years, the pandemic, remote working, and unpredictable supply and demand chains have certainly accelerated the trend towards data infusion, and 2022 will surely increase the urgency further. What could matter in the year ahead for business leaders?
A shifting trend is around data storage. Whereas for the last decade, the shift was from on premise to (single) cloud, today the options are more open and diverse. All the big vendors are racing to be winners in the multi-cloud race, i.e. allowing users to optimise their data storage across multiple cloud providers, based on their needs. Evermore data is also now generated and stored on the ‘edge’, i.e. on the device itself with data processing happening locally.
Due to concerns around cost, availability, and security, some companies consider repatriating their data back to on-premise servers, and of course, there are hybrid versions including all of the above. The choice of data storage will be a decision in need of careful consideration for data managers this year.
As data was being uploaded into data lakes and cloud centres, little consideration was typically spent on how to organise the data, or how to optimise the storage in order to facilitate data science operations. That ‘technical debt’ is now due to be repaid, and it can be a tricky burden for organisations. One option is to integrate a “self-service data platform” that can act as an interface between the data user and the data lake. There are also semi-organised tools, or “data lake houses”, that can take some of the legwork out of organising at least the structured data in your data lake. Ultimately, finding a way to make your data accessible for analysis without engineering overheads is a challenge for 2022.
One trend, on the other hand, that will facilitate production of data insights in 2022 is the further development and increasing use of low code/no-code applications. Here, both the large cloud providers as well as a range of start-ups and SME’s are working on creating software that allows even a relatively non-technical team member to pick up analytics work via, for example, drag-and-drop GUI’s and semantic interfaces.
This is a trend I personally warmly welcome. Data is part of the lifeblood of a company. Similar to how most employees in a company will have a degree of understanding and appreciation of financials, and profit and loss, they should have the same for other data. This democratisation of data analytics can only lead to more value derived, more initiatives around use of data, and engaged employees. The latter is important, also considering my next point.
After a couple of tough years where staff stayed put in their roles, either because of a fear of lack of opportunities or because they felt loyal to their employers during tough times, it is now clear that many are starting to look around for something new. For some, that may be finally daring to change careers altogether, for others it may be searching for something that gives them more meaning.
Whatever the reason, retaining staff as well as hiring new staff is increasingly difficult. According to the Royal Society, in the years 2016-2021, demand for data scientists and data engineers tripled over, rising 231%, to be compared to a mere 36% growth in all job postings in the UK. With less access to European talent, companies will need to give more attention to retaining and motivating existing personnel. One excellent way to ensure a flow of analytics talent is to give your employees a chance to upskill and see a career path towards more rewarding jobs within the organisation.
2021 was another year of growth in cyber and ransomware attacks. In a high profile case JBS, the world’s largest meat processor, paid a $11M ransom to release their systems and in my home country Sweden, one of the largest supermarket chains Coop had to close 500 stores for almost a week because of an attack on their checkout systems. 2021 was also a record year for data leaks, with for example the user details of 700 million LinkedIn users discovered online. What does this mean for organisations? Fraud and ransomware attacks are alas not confined to large enterprise, but also smaller businesses get fleeced. In this year, beefing up your cybersecurity procedures and practices should be high on the agenda. (Pardon the pun, JBS).
Now I know the list was supposed to consist of five key trends, but we need to talk about sustainability. Unfortunately, I do not think it will be on the top of managers’ minds this year, but it should be. Data storage, retrieval, and crunching is undoubtedly an energy-consuming business. By now, most countries have pledged to become climate neutral within a couple of decades, and businesses need to carry out their part of that responsibility. In 2022, I wish that more companies examine their energy consumption and that more vendors and software providers find ways to be more green. That would be real progress!
Corndel delivers brilliant training in Leadership and Technology to the UK’s largest companies. Our training is tailored to each company’s bespoke objectives and delivers measurable benefits. We offer training in Leadership and Management, Project Management, Data Analytics, Data Essentials, Software Engineering, DevOps Engineering and Fundraising.