IDC forecasts that by 2025, the global datasphere will have grown to 163 zettabytes. How much of that data will belong to your business? It's not just the volume of data that's on the rise, either - the complexity of enterprise data is also increasing. With these twin challenges in mind, the rapid developments in business-critical tools and applications have, for many companies, become a double-edged sword.
Whilst on the one hand, a business cannot afford to be left behind, on the other, uncertainty about the notoriously short life-cycle of business technology and the ability of teams to integrate these technologies into their existing infrastructure can give IT decision makers serious anxiety.
Avoiding the pitfall of quick fixes
For IT teams that are already overworked and stretched thin, having data-hungry executives' breathing down their necks for the latest tools and insights can be an added pressure when making key decisions critical to the business' future.
To make matters worse, in this data-driven world there are seemingly endless tools and applications that have become critical to business operations. These different tools, and corresponding employee skill sets, can create silos within your business if deployed as a short-term solution.
This is effectively making your data work against you as the more you collect, the harder it is to communicate between these silos.
Silos and complexity come hand-in-hand with inflexibility and where there is inflexibility there are ticking timebombs - can you really be sure if one of your tools is changed it won't mean scrapping the entire chain?
And what about in five years' time? Can your current infrastructure scale with your business - or by opting for quick fixes, will the business suffer in the long run?
Avoiding IT burnout
IT teams can also often feel like they are performing a juggling act, trying to keep on top of dozens, if not hundreds of different tools, all whilst having to deal with day-to-day issues and maintenance of the entire IT system.
Working in this manner is not only inefficient but unsustainable, problems can build up and grow in severity whilst there is ever-shrinking bandwidth to consider value-add tasks or strategy going forward.
This speaks to the core problem - inflexibility.
Ultimately it's a lot to handle and for some businesses, the limitations in technical ability or resources, combined with complicated existing technology stacks, makes staying ahead of the curve seem almost impossible.
But it doesn't have to be.
Building in flexibility
Businesses need to be flexible if they are to adapt to whatever the future throws at them. The key to this is data integration, an option that can grow with your data needs.
The benefits of data integration are twofold, firstly it takes an administrative load off of talented IT employees. Secondly, scalable and self-upgradable integration solutions break down the data silos within your business.
Having flexible employees doesn't mean that they should be cartwheeling down your corridors, but rather having flexibility over their schedules, unburdening them from the most manual, admin-heavy tasks and empowering them to focus on the most important challenges and changes your business faces.
Another crucial method for freeing up valuable time is self-service IT. This means allowing all users to benefit from tools that can help them do their work, without the need for IT intervention. Remember that the average employee is fully capable of using something like a drag-and-drop interface in their role - Fortnite is more complex by comparison. This means that integration platforms can work for all users, not just those with technical expertise. While there must be some handrails in place, ultimately users can be empowered whilst your IT organisation can claw back some time to work on the most important projects.
Enterprise-ready solutions must also be able to scale up with the business' demands as well as integrate new tools and data stores seamlessly without complete overhaul.
Your solution must be able to ensure the delivery of any amount of data to any location within your business, thus tearing down data silos and allowing for true scalable integration across your business.
We may not be able to predict the future of your business, but if your data infrastructure is not fit for purpose now, it will be even less so down the road as the quantity and complexity of data increases. The keyword is agility - being able to respond and react to changing business demands as the years go on, without needing to rip out and replace the entire IT system each time.
Data integration offers a solution that tackles both challenges: firstly by freeing up the time of your staff to focus on the business-strategic issues at hand, rather than being stuck in the IT weeds; and secondly, by providing a platform where data and applications can be easily added, changed and managed without sacrificing the entire infrastructure.
Breaking down the walls between your data in this manner can therefore not only help you now, but can also add a layer of flexibility to your business, shielding it from whatever the future has in store.
This post is funded by SnapLogic.