What it means to be data-driven

Data Optimization  |  July 6, 2023

It’s no secret that our world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and that data’s reach extends well beyond the data center. From data-generating edge devices like sensors and cameras, to network gateways like personal computers and smart phones, today’s data ecosystems are more robust, complex, and accessible than ever before.

This is due in part to increasing digitization of traditionally analog Operational Technology (OT) assets – such as vehicles, infrastructure, and equipment. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), interconnected IoT devices on assets like these will increase in number to 55.7 billion and generate almost 80 zettabytes of data by 2025. This is what we call becoming increasingly data-rich.

We at Hitachi believe firmly in the potential of data and technology to create competitive advantages, uncover operational efficiencies, and pave the way towards a safer, more resilient, more sustainable society. By illuminating data, we can make sense of whatever comes next and orient our systems, resources, and operations accordingly. This ability of data to uncover actionable, strategic intelligence and unlock new solutions to mission challenges is at the core of what it means to be data-driven.

We believe the future belongs to the data-driven. Data is at the center of almost every modern innovation today, and becoming more data-driven is a foundational goal for most digital transformation initiatives. Placing data at the center of your organization significantly improves decision-making, improves operational efficiency, democratizes insights, and accelerates the performance of initiatives. In the private sector, research done by McKinsey has found that data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to win customers, six times more likely to keep customers and 19 times more likely to be profitable. In the public sector, this translates to enhanced citizen services, competitive advantages in intelligence and defense, increased efficiencies and cost savings, and most importantly improved mission readiness and likelihood of success.

The transition from data-rich to data-driven isn’t an easy endeavor for most organizations, across both private and public sector. There are five main challenges organizations face in the road towards becoming data-driven. These are:

  1. Cloud Complexity – Accelerating to cloud is a huge priority for most of the organizations we work with. Whether the right-sized approach is private, public, hybrid, or multicloud – the agility and consumption models cloud operating models can provide are compelling. However, navigating the complexity to identify which approach, or combinations of approaches, fit with mission needs and data continues to be a major challenge – inside and outside of the government. Application migration and modernization strategies, dealing with multicloud refactoring, controlling costs, and ensuring reliability, security, and privacy across distributed infrastructures are just some of the hurdles faced by our customers today.
  1. Data is Everywhere – By 2025, there will be a 5x increase in the world’s datasphere. Today’s increasingly distributed, multicloud infrastructures are becoming the norm, and that means data will be more distributed than ever before. This creates real challenges for organizations seeking to discover, integrate, share, secure, and analyze data – and it will require new architectures, platforms, and processes to ensure success.
  1. Every Company is a Software Company – This is true for federal agencies too. Large organizations today realize that to become a data-driven, digital-first enterprise means they need to be able to develop and manage the differentiated software applications that will power future missions. But for many agencies that’s easier said than done. The complexity of architecting and developing cloud-native applications and hybrid cloud data and analytics platforms, and managing modern software engineering operations such as DevOps/SecOps is outside the scope of what many agencies can resource on their own today.
  1. Resource and Skills Gaps – IT and OT departments everywhere face a critical skills shortage in areas such as software development, cloud-native application development and management, IoT, and many other digital areas that are becoming increasingly relied on by federal agencies and their missions.
  1. Legacy Infrastructure – Finally, the vast majority of our customers who are dealing with these challenges are also managing existing legacy infrastructure and operating models that can make digital innovation seem impossible.

These five challenges shouldn’t come as a big surprise to anyone in or around IT today. However, navigating each one of them successfully is crucial to becoming data-driven and is central to our approach in enabling the digital transformation of the U.S. federal government. This approach in one sentence: Modernize to innovate at scale. Our strategy involves three key pillars that make up our playbook for accelerating digital innovation:

First, modernize the digital core. The foundation of a modern digital core starts with building a resilient and agile digital infrastructure. Organizations should look to architect a unified platform for all their data and applications – leveraging hybrid and software-defined infrastructure and data services to manage those applications wherever they reside, and taking advantage of automated infrastructure operations to dynamically tier data across their multicloud environments. The second element of modernizing the digital core is modernizing your applications. The cloud is accelerating data-driven innovation and business agility, but the complexity of today’s cloud operating models is contributing to unexpected costs, outages and compliance and security risks. Assessing, designing, planning, and building a roadmap for migrating, modernizing, and managing applications for hybrid and multicloud deployments is critical to application reliability and efficiency.

Next, optimize the data fabric. An optimized data fabric breaks down silos and automates data operations to democratize data access while ensuring proper governance. Today’s distributed compute infrastructures can make it challenging to know what data you have, where it resides, what its risk profile is, and how it should be governed. Leveraging a DataOps platform can help you design and optimize a hybrid cloud data fabric that enables you to get maximum value from your data assets while ensuring proper governance – ultimately improving the quality and trust of your data.

Finally, engineer data-driven outcomes. Design, build, and operate the differentiated, custom applications that power missions and drive competitive advantages through a combination of industry domain expertise and technical leadership. Look to partners here throughout the private and public sectors who can augment your in-house skills and resources to create cutting-edge digitally transformative products and experiences.

Regardless of where your agency is in its digital transformation journey, continuously assessing modernization at all levels is key to success. Very few IT leaders have the luxury of modernizing for potential innovation at some future point in time. The best strategy is to pursue continuous modernization while delivering new data-driven tools, operating models, and outcomes in an ongoing pursuit of digital transformation.

See how we define our second brand pillar, Mission-Centric, here. Stay tuned for the final article in this series: “What it means to be Future-Focused” where we explain Hitachi’s global ambition and how we are evolving to address an unpredictable future.

Learn more about Hitachi Vantara Federal and the competitive advantages we provide to our customers and partners.