Despite the general uncertainty, cloud spending continues to rise as organizations reassess their architecture for flexibility and scalability. Gartner predicts that by the end of 2023, 40 percent of all enterprise workloads will be deployed in cloud infrastructure and platform services, up from 20 percent in 2020. And that by 2025, 85 percent of enterprises will have a cloud-first principle.

This is a great first step for modernizing businesses so that they’re better able to react to sudden market changes. However, we should not forget that transitioning what you were doing on-prem to the cloud does not equal ‘digital transformation’ – and in fact, without careful strategizing, can cause more challenges and distractions that impede value creation.

To truly create lasting and sustainable impact, the cloud needs to be treated not as a ‘destination’, but as a gateway. One that opens the door to the transformative power of data.

Data – the one thing we truly own

In a world where most businesses outsource the entirety of their architecture, data is, after all, the one asset you truly own – it’s no exaggeration to say data is the lifeblood of an enterprise.

However, in today’s landscape, that data is messy, complex, and fragmented – spread across multiple channels, departments, applications, and systems. In fact, according to a global CDO research from Informatica, some of the top technological challenges faced by APAC organizations in executing their vision for data management include data silos, the findability of appropriate data, and poor data quality. This essentially means that without effective data management tools in place, data leaders have their hands full simply trying to keep the lights on.

To be able to create positive business outcomes from their cloud journey, organizations, therefore, need to consider how they can enable their data to flow freely – transformed, secured, connected, trusted, ethically managed, and democratized by design. Because it’s only when people are sure they are accessing trustworthy data that they’ll begin turning it into insights for strategic decision-making and the operational activities that ultimately increase business agility and resilience.

Cloud as a data gateway

That’s of course easier said than done – ingesting and integrating data from disparate sources into the cloud is not a one-and-done event, but a continuous process that keeps evolving as business requirements, technologies, and frameworks change. But there are ways to optimize cloud strategies for maximum effect:

Data-driven culture

Cultivating a data-driven culture typically requires a big shift in mindset where everyone – not just IT – is recognized as potential data users. This also means recognizing the importance of empowering a line of business users beyond the IT department to easily find, understand, trust and access the data they need for analytics, AI, and, more broadly, data-driven decision-making.

Part of inculcating a data-driven culture, therefore, means being able to answer questions like: How do we break down silos between disciplines and business functions? How do we encourage collaboration and knowledge transfer across the enterprise? What is the company’s ultimate vision for digital transformation and how can everyone ladder back to this?

Becoming a data-driven enterprise is a people and technology problem and will not be achieved overnight, but investing in holistic data platforms, data governance, and data culture approaches will bear huge dividends.

Meeting users where they are

Related to the above, if we recognize that data users may well spread far beyond the IT department, this also implies that skill levels may vary significantly. Not all clouds and data management tools are born equal – some require significantly more specialist knowledge than others.

For example, Informatica recently launched a new set of innovative integrations between our industry-leading Intelligent Data Management Cloud and Amazon Web Services (AWS).  These innovations democratize data access and data management for departmental users, developers, data scientists, and data engineers by bringing the power of IDMC to the users in the tools and frameworks in which they prefer to work. These capabilities will further enable enterprise data consumers to use internal and third-party data hosted on AWS Data Exchange and provide them with a self-service model tailored to their needs and technical skills to drive data-led decisions.

Here are some of the areas you may want to consider:

  • Automation: How quickly can your users derive value from your raw data? Are we talking a matter of minutes, weeks, or months?
  • Unified: Can you easily see all your tools in one common dashboard to support end-to-end workstreams?
  • Governance: Can users be sure that any insights they pull are trusted and always compliant?

Multi-cloud data fabric

Finally, an optimal strategy will leverage technology that allows data workflows to span multiple clouds and on-premises environments with end-to-end cloud-native data management capabilities. This will enable organizations to make data accessible for all users and achieve rapid ROI, as well as to improve time to value for any analytics initiatives. Automation of the entire data lifecycle is necessary to achieve this.

The year ahead

Data will continue to grow in complexity, fragmented across diverse applications and environments as companies scale their enterprise workloads to the cloud. Mckinsey has predicted that by 2024, there will be a 40% annual growth in cloud spending on vertical applications, such as warehouse management in retail or enterprise risk management in banking. Indeed, we’ve seen this trend among our customers, resulting in the launch of a series of industry-specific Informatica Data Management Cloud solutions across FinServ, Healthcare and Life Sciences, and Retail. This in theory means more channels and data sources to contend with for 2023.

We’re on a path toward evolution. According to Gartner, in 2023 there will be an increase in investment in cloud applications to $879.62 billion. More companies will be adopting a multi-cloud strategy, leveraging cloud services for innovation and value creation, and looking for customized solutions to meet their business needs and market dynamics. Could 2023 be the year it comes to fruition? One thing’s for sure, the Year of the Rabbit could very well change the race altogether.

Rik Tamm-Daniels is Group Vice President of Ecosystem Alliances and Technology, Informatica.

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