Top Data Management Predictions for 2018

In 2017, we saw several of our top predictions come true. AI and analytics M&A vendor activity accelerated, while cloud and data security has gained further importance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) now in motion. How will data management evolve in 2018?

Here are a few predictions and perspectives from industry experts to learn from and be smarter this year:

The Promise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) Continues on

There have been repeated predictions over the last couple of years touting a potential breakthrough in enterprise use of AI and ML. This year is no different as the potential benefits from adding some kind of intelligent AI/ML layer to software emboldens more organizations across industries to adopt these technologies.

Daniel Hong, VP Research Director at Forrester Research predicts that having a successful AI-driven customer service or sales program will depend on the processes that support a blended AI approach. Humans will play a critical role in the ongoing optimization of AI.

Enterprise data-driven applications with a Modern Data Management foundation can blend customer data into one place, so that marketing, e-commerce, customer service and sales teams can get visibility into their customers’ preferences, behaviors, product interests and channel choice.

ML and predictive analytics are leveraged to suggest next-best-actions for sending relevant and timely information to customers and finding opportunities for up-sell and cross-sell. Insights like churn propensity, life-time-value, preferences and abandonment rates can be delivered to relevant teams, along with recommended actions that allow them to capitalize on this information.

GDPR will be Top of Mind for Many Organizations

Bart Willemsen, Research Director at Gartner predicts that by the end of 2018, more than 50 percent of companies affected by the GDPR will not be in full compliance with its requirements.

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Effective May 25, 2018, the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will force organizations to meet a standard of managing data that many won’t be able to fulfill. They must evaluate how they’re collecting, storing, updating, and purging customer data across all functional areas and operational applications, to support “the right to be forgotten.” And they must make sure they continue to have valid consent to engage with the customer and capture their data.

Meeting regulations such as GDPR often comes at a high price of doing business, not just for European companies, but multinational corporations in an increasingly global landscape. Companies seeking quick fixes often end up licensing specialized technology to meet such regulations, while others resign themselves to paying fines that may be levied, as they determine that the cost to fix their data outweighs the penalties that might be incurred.

With security and data breaches also making high-profile headlines in 2017, it’s become an increasingly tough environment in which to do business, as the very data that companies have collected in the hopes of executing offensive data-driven strategies, weighs on them heavily, crushing their ability to be agile.

Customer-obsessed, Data-driven Retailers will Thrive

Sucharita Kodali and Brendan Witcher from Forrester Research predict that retail will grow.

Bolstered by strong consumer confidence, not only will total US retail sales grow, but digital will impact more than half of this $4 trillion market. But retailers will need to be nimble and innovative to grow, right-sizing their store networks and real estate footprints and testing everything from Target-style flexible small-scale formats to service stores (think Nordstrom Local) and urban distribution centers – and more.
— Source: "Predictions 2018: Customer-Obsessed, Data-Driven Retailers Will Thrive In 2018" Forrester Research November 14, 2017
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With the Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) wars heating up, players such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Microsoft Azure continue to attempt to outdo each other on all vectors including capabilities, price, and service.

To avoid being “Amazoned,” some retailers have even adopted a non-AWS Cloud policy. For most, however, it’s about efficiency and cost. Multi-cloud means choice and the opportunity to leverage the best technology for the business challenges they face.

Today’s Modern Data Management PaaS are naturally multi-cloud, seamlessly keeping up with the best components and services that solve business problems. Acting as technology portfolio managers for large and small companies who want to focus on nimble and agile business execution, these platforms are democratizing the notion of multi-cloud for everyone’s benefit.

The Deck will be Cleared for Accelerated Enterprise Digital Transformation

Joe Pucciarelli, Serge Findling and Michael Jennett from IDC predicts by 2019, 60% of CIOs will complete infrastructure and application re-platforming using cloud, mobile, and DevOps, clearing the deck for accelerated enterprise digital transformation.

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The business landscape is changing like never before. New revenue models, new competition, newer regulations and exceeding customer expectations are forcing organizations to rethink how they do business.

Digital transformation is one of the key initiatives for many organizations looking for ways to leverage digital technologies, become agile, more productive and above all, provide a connected digital experience for their customers. For digital transformation to succeed, a solid data management foundation is a must.

Today’s Modern Data Management Platforms as a Service (PaaS) seamlessly powers data-driven applications, which are both analytical and operational, delivering contextual, goal-based insights and actions, which are specific and measurable, allowing outcomes to be correlated, leading to that Return on Investment (ROI) Holy Grail, and forming a foundation for machine learning to drive continuous improvement. As an added bonus, multi-tenant Modern Data Management PaaS in the Cloud, will also begin to provide industry comparables, so companies can finally understand how they rank relative to their peers.

Digital will Disrupt Siloed Healthcare Ecosystems

Kate McCarthy and Alex Kramer from Forrester Research predict that digital will disrupt siloed healthcare ecosystems in 2018.

For those who have alarm fatigue from all the times disruption has been predicted for our industry, but never came to fruition, this time is different. All the drivers for change remain –cost, quality, regulatory — but unlike times past, the disruption is already underway … And as cool as this is on its own, it is the proof the industry needed to confidently step forward and build digital experiences to engage our customers the way other industries have for more than a decade.
— Source: "Healthcare Predictions 2018" Forrester Research December 18, 2017

With the emergence of IDNs, ACOs and MCOs, the approach to healthcare is evolving. The focus is on overall well-being and quality of life, rather than a one-time treatment. This requires a new patient-centric approach, complete understanding of the patient’s needs, behaviors and preferences, and focus on building long-term relationships.

In this changing healthcare environment, a modern approach to data management that enables complete understanding of patients, physicians and other partners across all clinics and facilities, while guaranteeing HIPAA compliance is necessary.

Whatever the industry or business need, most enterprises will need to first focus on IA (Information Augmentation): getting their data organized in a manner that ensures it can be reconciled, refined and related, to uncover relevant insights that support efficient business execution across all departments, while addressing the burden of regulatory compliance.