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Data is growing at breakneck speed, but are we optimising its value?

Data lies at the heart of digital transformation, as every digital touchpoint translates to a data point. In this digital-first world, data is being created everywhere today – at breakneck speeds. By 2025, it is estimated that 463 exabytes of data will be created each day globally. To give you a gauge of how large 1 exabyte is – it is 1 billion billion bytes, with 18 zeros after the figure 1. It is hard to visualise, but it goes without saying that we are creating more data than ever before.

This massive amount of data generation creates a compound effect on businesses, in what has been termed as the Data Gravity effect. Data Gravity – the tendency of big data to exert its own gravitational pull on both the resources it requires (storage, personnel, and other data) and the resources it can feed (applications, services, and business logic) – can create unfavorable complexity, which poses a significant challenge for businesses, who are increasingly reliant on insights from data to serve their clients. 

Data has become the answer to solving our business challenges, and business leaders are looking to get insights from their data to attract and retain customers, drive business growth, and develop new digital products. From customer experiences to climate change, a data-driven approach is now a necessity in decision making. This is reflected in Digital Realty’s Global Data Insights Survey, where IT leaders cited data-driven insights as being essential for improving the customer experience (50%), locating data infrastructure (37%), developing new digital products (35%), and driving business growth (28%).

Data Gravity is more pertinent than we think

The Data Gravity megatrend is one of the single biggest challenges for organizations today. As data accrues and processing complexity increases, it creates significant challenges for the IT infrastructure we have in place today.

With the compounding effect of Data Gravity, data becomes challenging to manage. This can inhibit enterprise workflow performance, raise security concerns, and increase costs. It also adds complications to business processes and prevents companies from having the flexibility and agility needed to transform digitally.

As businesses look towards accelerating global growth, solving for these Data Gravity barriers will be crucial. This is especially pertinent for the Asia Pacific region, which is expected to generate the fastest growth in Data Gravity intensity across all regions by 2024. Jakarta, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Melbourne especially see some of the fastest growth in Data Gravity intensity among all metros globally. 

The stakes of securing data are even higher today

Not only is Data Gravity posing a challenge for businesses to make use of the data they have on hand, but expectations around data management are growing too. 

Across the world, we’re seeing increasing regulatory expectations on how businesses manage, process and store customers’ personal information. Managing this data in accordance with a broad range of different laws and regulations is businesses’ next biggest challenge. 

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), over 70% of countries have put in place legislation governing the protection of data and privacy. We’re all too familiar with the diverse set of legislations governing data privacy known by their acronyms, such as Singapore’s PDPA, European Union’s GDPR and Japan’s APPI to name a few.

On top of that, data sovereignty and data residency requirements, as well as new cybersecurity laws have also introduced added complexities for businesses, when it comes to their data. Businesses will need to ensure that they are able to meet the different stringent governance obligations when storing, transferring, and securing their data, else risk facing legal sanctions and massive fines. 

The road ahead 

As the volume of users and data grow exponentially, a secure ecosystem of providers and business partners to support the integration of data in a compliant and time effective manner to garner insights becomes paramount. 

Now more than ever, companies will need to rethink their data strategies and increase investments into talent, tools and infrastructure required to handle increasing amounts of data. 

To start, data systems, infrastructure and analytics tools are some key areas requiring investments. Currently, over half (57%) of IT leaders in APAC said that the lack of funding in data systems and infrastructure is a key obstacle when drawing insights from data. 

Additionally, IT teams need to be equipped with the skill sets to extract value from data and make data-driven strategies a priority to stay competitive in a data-centric world. This falls onto business leaders and IT leaders to upskill their teams accordingly. Thankfully, 48% of IT leaders in APAC businesses already recognize the need to increase employee data competency and are taking action. 

At the same time, there is a need to optimise data exchange to control centers of data to counter the effects of Data Gravity. Having a network footprint, which aggregates and localises traffic in and out between the public internet and private enterprise, can help to optimise network performance and cost. Even more critical, companies should be able to place security infrastructure in a secure facility adjacent to the network traffic, to improve its security posture and protect its mission-critical data. 

Ultimately, the goal is to operate ubiquitously and on-demand, augmented by real-time intelligence to best serve customers, partners and employees across all channels, business functions and multiple points of business presence. 

Unlocking the value of trapped data 

There is a massive data opportunity for businesses today. However, this is contingent on businesses being able to unlock the trapped value in data and transforming it into actionable insights and intelligence. 

With the competitive business climate and turbulent macroeconomic environment, being able to leverage data to prepare, adapt and respond to changes is no longer a good to have, but a must have for businesses today.

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