Businesses Turn to Data Strategies for Competitive Edge

IT industry experts explain how companies unlock the value of data from across the enterprise.

By Scott Steinberg

By Scott Steinberg July 29, 2022

This is a time of exponential change, increasingly driven by digitization. Data and applications are fast becoming the lifeblood of modern organizations as businesses and consumers rely on information technology-powered experiences. Data is a critical building block for the future used to maintain a competitive advantage. According to an IDC report, 83% of CEOs want their enterprises to be more data-driven. This has given rise to real-time data systems, often powered by hybrid multicloud IT, that help businesses forecast and adapt to change. 

As companies rely on more applications and software-powered services, they’re rethinking how to architect their IT infrastructure to keep information flowing throughout their enterprise quickly, correctly, safely and efficiently. 

“Today, applications and data are business critical,” said Lee Caswell, senior vice president of product and solutions marketing at Nutanix. 

He said some analysts expect to see half of a billion applications by the end of 2023, which is how many were created in the past 40 years. That number is expected to grow by 50% by 2026. 

“The data these apps create and use can bring tremendous value to companies,” Lee said. 

He explained that it can be customer data, which leads to better experiences or services. It can be real-time inventory tracking data that help manage supply chains. Then there’s data from IT systems that help monitor and adjust operations to meet customers and employees needs. 

"Data insights are more critical than ever in a competitive marketplace."


Three Pillars of Hybrid Multicloud Success

Caswell sees more organizations choosing a hybrid multicloud approach to IT systems to meet the growing dependency on IT.

“New technologies make it easier for IT teams to facilitate application developers, who are creating apps aimed at bringing more value to the company,” he said. 

“These new apps are usually additive and require consistent access to data, whether that data is stored as files, blocks or objects - and whether it lives in the public cloud, the data center or at the edge,” he said.

Getting More Strategic About Business Apps and Data

While organizations are actively investing in data- and artificial intelligence (AI)-focused initiatives, less than a quarter of Fortune 1000 companies believe that their company has achieved its goal. That’s because many are still finding more effective ways to collect, store and secure data that can help them adapt to market trends and changing customer behavior.

Successful data use requires deliberate planning and engineering to streamline access to information. Companies are more actively looking for ways to integrate digital tools to be more efficient, increase productivity or provide better services.

“Today’s business leaders aren’t just looking for more effective ways to safeguard information and maintain customer privacy,” said Taylor Tresatti, head of industry research for BIZDEV: The International Association for Business Development. 

“They’re also searching for solutions that can help them more effectively steer data where it’s needed, when it’s needed, and help employees more readily apply this information in context.” 

He said great insights can be discovered by knowing how and where data resides in an organization. 

“Data can facilitate decision making, and can be a powerful source of competitive advantage for tomorrow’s organization,” Tresatti said. 

“The better you understand how the information you’re collecting throughout your business can inform your decision-making process and help drive the strategies behind the solutions you’re looking to offer, the more effective you’ll be.”

The increasing focus on data and applications is driving many enterprises to re-evaluate their data center technologies. Today, more enterprise leaders are applying a hybrid multi-cloud approach to IT that leverages both their own data centers and a host of external cloud services to meet their fast-changing needs. The Fourth Annual Enterprise Cloud Index (ECI) study conducted by the U.K.’s Vanson Bourne for Nutanix shows that over a third of global respondents are using multiple clouds today − and nearly two-thirds expect to be doing so within three years. As IT leaders can attest, making sense of the often huge amounts of structured or unstructured data collected at myriad touchpoints across an enterprise is no small task.


Rein In Databases With Hybrid Multicloud Systems

Data mapping best practices and tools such as Nutanix Files, which reveal where data resides in a business, how it’s flowing throughout the organization, and who has access to this information, can lead to more efficient IT operations. Having visibility into where data resides in networks, apps, devices and business environments is essential and easier to do with new tools. 

Likewise, new tools can help classify data based on purpose and sensitivity level. These tools help safeguard data assets and maintain regulatory compliance.

For example, financial and banking leaders can use tools such as these to ensure that sensitive credit card information is being properly stored and protected from prying eyes, and that data use is compliant with international regulations. Similarly, leading life insurers can leverage data management tools that scan for and remove sensitive data from employees’ emails before archiving communications in safer online locations. 

Tighter Grip on Where Data Lives

Going forward, as more domestic and international privacy laws are adopted, governmental high-tech oversight and regulation increase, and networked environments continue to expand in scale and complexity, companies will need to manage data flows across the organization tightly.

“Firms in every field aren’t just facing the rising need to become more data literate. They also must gain deeper insights into the data they’re gathering and potential applications for it,” noted Tim Rosato, president of trend forecasters the Silver Lion Group. 

“To this extent, companies not only need to become much more effective when it comes to managing, analyzing and interpreting information but also understanding the many ways that they can use these insights going forward.” 

He said traditional IT investments in data operations have revolved mainly around data storage and transmission. 

“Going forward, they’ll focus more on information management, process enablement, and discovery.”


How Data Lifecycle Management is Different in a Hybrid Cloud World

At the same time, with the pace of enterprise transformation and innovation only accelerating, and the world of technology moving faster, cybersecurity concerns only continue to grow for private and public organizations. “No threat facing America has grown as fast, or in a manner as difficult to understand, as the danger from cyberattacks,” stated The Heritage Foundation

Moreover, a whopping 119,000 high-tech hazards are currently being introduced each minute today.

“Every company, even Bob’s Pizza, now has a digital footprint,” said Davis Hake, a defense expert and Adjunct Professor of Cyber Risk Management at the University of California, Berkeley. “Operating safely should be a core business priority and no longer viewed simply as a cost center. Today, cyber risk should be a board-level focus.”

According to market research firm Gartner, addressing an evolving cybersecurity threat landscape is fast becoming today’s top priority for information security and risk management leaders. Ironically though, like answers to many pressing business queries, many of the vital details and insights (e.g. signs of aberrant application or network behavior) that security teams need to successfully defend an enterprise’s digital perimeter often lie waiting within the mountains of data already being collected by organizations. 

Accordingly, many firms just need greater visibility into this information, faster tools to facilitate data discovery, and better ways to quickly surface key insights if they’re looking to defend themselves from digital dangers better. To wit, implementing more effective data management and network security practices hold many of the answers to addressing these challenges.

The SolarWinds 2020 compromise is a classic lesson in why enterprises must be more aware, said Davis.

“You have to be ready to respond to cyber threats more readily,” he said. “Your business has to be set up in a flexible way and you’re prepared enough that if a large attack does happen, it’s not catastrophic.”

Implementing a growing range of data management, data mapping and automated application and network oversight tools, which assist by providing continuous cloud monitoring, endpoint security and automated threat detection capabilities, can help strengthen defenses.

In addition to constantly scanning for suspicious activity, hardware or software vulnerabilities and atypical behavior, new tools can help companies stay one step ahead of threat actors, whose intrusions can otherwise go undetected for weeks or months. They can also help manage IT infrastructure and online apps − and confer the insights and intelligence that prompt businesses to ask strategic questions.

Organizations are increasingly waking up and realizing that all of the information they’re collecting has value, said Silver Lion Group’s Rosato.

“Don’t forget that the same types of network or application activity and business or operating details that you already need to be scanning for compliance or security purposes can also provide helpful insights into how to optimize and enhance mission-critical activities, systems, and interactions in the years ahead,” he said.

“The more actively organizations take the perspective that data holds the potential to unlock tremendous insight and value, and invest accordingly, the more successful they’ll be going forward.”

Editor’s Note: In this Nutanix blog post, learn more about managing structured and non-structured data. Then explore distributed storage systems to run all workloads and database solutions from Nutanix.

Scott Steinberg is a business strategist, award-winning professional speaker, trend expert and futurist. He’s the bestselling author of Think Like a Futurist; Make Change Work for You: 10 Ways to Future-Proof Yourself, Fearlessly Innovate, and Succeed Despite Uncertainty; and Fast >> Forward: How to Turbo-Charge Business, Sales, and Career Growth. He’s the president and CEO of BIZDEV: The International Association for Business Development and Strategic Partnerships™. Learn more at and LinkedIn.

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