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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

Why Data Will Remain the Battleground for Enterprises in 2020

These three trends can help your enterprise transform data into information on demand that empowers every person, process, and system to be more agile and intelligent.

As we bid farewell to 2019, many organizations now have hundreds of SaaS apps that increase the burden of data integration, especially when looking for a single view of your customer or identifying how well a product is delivered across your business. Although the application fabric has changed over the years, businesses are going through their own revolution as they struggle to manage the exponential increase in demand for data and insights from these apps across the enterprise.

For Further Reading:

CEO Q&A: Why Successful Companies Think Data First

Most Companies Are Not Ready for Ethical Intelligence

The Imperative for Reimagining Data Governance

In 2020, companies that can prepare datasets quickly and accurately with the help of built-in intelligence and smart algorithms will come out on top. By enabling IT professionals to maintain the scale of data volumes and variety across both enterprise and cloud data sources, they can focus on supporting data democratization scenarios for immediate and repeatable self-service data needs.

To address the ongoing plethora of data management challenges, expect to see the following in 2020:

2020 Trend #1: AI-enabled industry apps proliferate but governance will need to be a priority

Next year, we will see more digital apps and services with embedded AI designed to automate and solve specific decision-making processes across different industries. This will naturally increase the need for fast onboarding and integration of data from computer vision, speech and natural language processing, and augmented reality and virtual reality devices with the rest of the enterprise data fabric.

We have already reached a tipping point in creating effective governance models that can easily be adopted alongside our AI and machine learning (ML) initiatives. However, the speed, agility, and better decision making that new emerging technologies offer have created immense pressures for organizations looking to control, govern, and explain the data and insights generated from these newer sources. Governance in the age of AI and ML will become the catalyst for responsible adoption of these technologies in 2020, addressing the risk that could be introduced and building trust, confidence, and credibility for decision makers and a better experience for customers.

2020 Trend #2: Ethics in AI will take a stronger stand

An increase in AI adoption will force a greater understanding of how the AI-assisted insights will affect business and public decisions. The technologies that support "explainable AI" will become a must-have next year. This will encourage those businesses that are holding back from using AI (because of a fear of liabilities and unfair decisions) to innovate and embark on more intelligent and efficient outcomes.

Transparency and "explainability" will be another new requirement. Imagine during a board meeting at a large financial institution when the line-of-business leader responsible for consumer loans is asked to explain the rationale behind the denial of loans to applicants of a certain age group or race. Behind the scenes, an AI algorithm produced the results or augmented a decision by loan officers in the field. Unfortunately, this is hard to explain because the algorithm produced the results or augmented the decision based on information provided by loan officers in the field.

Consider another example: allegations of gender discrimination against an AI program that set credit limits for a new credit card from tech giant Apple. In one instance, the card's "black box" algorithm -- an AI system whose decisions cannot be explained -- had given a man 20 times the credit limit of his wife even though they file joint tax returns and she has a higher credit score.

Moments similar to this are playing out in recruiting, consumer marketing, healthcare, higher education, and college admissions. As organizations build advanced, continuous-learning technologies that far exceed the capabilities of the human mind in the coming years, we'll need to pay close attention to the governance aspects of these models in order for trust these algorithms. In the midst of enormous excitement about AI, next year will require greater confidence in knowing how the machines have made decisions.

2020 Trend #3: Kubernetes will become the architectural framework to power an insights-driven world

The incredible complexity of managing data processing, data transformation, and AI/ ML technologies will continue to be one of the biggest challenges of 2020 because few organizations truly have the skills to run huge Hadoop or Spark platforms. Thankfully, the creators of these successful data processing platforms also brought us the next wave of innovation: Kubernetes.

Kubernetes is a container orchestration framework that brings a higher level of manageability to extremely complex technology. In 2020, containers will enable organizations to encapsulate every element of the application stack that is then managed, scaled up or down as needed, and secured.

Kubernetes will set itself apart as the big winner next year because our world is not becoming less homogeneous but rather more diverse. Although best-of-breed applications are coming from dozens of providers, no one is adopting a single cloud provider. Software providers will increasingly adopt Kubernetes as the common framework standard to manage multicloud deployments. Likewise, many business technology environments will adopt Kubernetes to provide the framework for managing hybrid on-premises and cloud environments.

Looking Ahead

The stakes for winning or losing in 2020 have never been higher as competitive "underdogs" continue to embrace technology to up-end traditional businesses. Next year, data will remain at the heart of this battleground and the technologies available to help organizations capitalize on these assets are plentiful and maturing. Perhaps the biggest hurdle will be getting started. Companies need to consider the three trends above to help transform data into information on demand that empowers every person, process, and system in the enterprise to be more agile and intelligent.

About the Author

Piet Loubser is senior vice president, global head of marketing at Paxata, a pioneer and leader in enterprise-grade self-service data preparation for analytics.


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