New year, new you: 5 data resolutions to help CIOs ace 2021

By Ravi Rajendran


OVER the past twelve months, IT teams have operated under extreme conditions. They have had to deal with reduced teams and tech budgets, enabling staff to work from home, fast-changing organisational priorities, and increased threats in terms of business continuity and information security.

On the other hand, the pandemic has revolutionised technologies such as internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and has also spurred more possibilities for businesses in the new era.

It is time for businesses to plan how they would like to use their data over the year ahead. Here are the top five data resolutions that can help chief information officers (CIOs) boost their business in the new year for better data management:

Clear objectives from the business

In 2020, organisations realised more than ever what technology can do for them. Digitisation helped companies deal with the challenges of coronavirus and now businesses are looking for more from their tech.

Gartner, Inc – a global research and advisory firm – says that CIOs are spending more in areas that will accelerate their digital business, such as IaaS or customer relationship management software.

Earlier in 2020, IDC predicted that IT spending in Asia/Pacific excluding Japan and China (APEJC) will grow by over 5.2%. With IT budgets still under downward pressure, CIOs and IT teams need direction from their business peers. They need to work in unison to create strongly-defined use cases.

With data-led emerging tech, like artificial intelligence and machine learning, moving from the laboratory to the enterprise, that requirement has never been more pressing.

The good news is that CIOs and their IT teams will have spent much of the past 12 months engaging closely with their business peers to ensure that their technology demands are met.

Now they must create a clear long-term digital strategy that puts the business first.

More commitment to the cloud

The past 12 months have almost been like a giant beta-test for the cloud. At a moment’s notice, companies were pressured to switch to home working, delivering real-time collaboration and online fulfilment.

Businesses that jumped on cloud saw success and endless opportunities. For those that did make the jump, your task in 2021 is to make even more use of the cloud, looking at what additional benefits you can get from this new delivery.

Global spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 18.4% next year to total US$304.9 bil, up from US$257.5 bil in 2020, according to Gartner. The analyst firm says companies have more IT to do and less money to do it, so they will spend on areas such as the cloud to help accelerate digital business.

Some fundamental elements of legacy IT remain in incumbent businesses of all sizes. Deloitte Insights found that many CIOs recognise that their legacy systems lack the agility to innovate and scale, with 64% of CIO survey participants currently rolling out next-generation ERP or modernising legacy platforms.

If CIOs and their tech teams want to help their businesses change directly quickly, then they will need a cloud-first approach that allows the organisation to move with flexibility. Migration away from legacy IT has been discussed for years, and 2021 is the year to make good on having that plan.

Agile development methodologies

Moving quickly, however, is not just about implementing the right technology. Without a people-centred information strategy that allows employees to exploit new opportunities collaboratively, then the promises of big data will go unfulfilled.

That is where Agile development methodologies come in. Unlike traditional Waterfall approaches, which use a linear approach to task completion, Agile methods rely on iterative collaboration. While these techniques started in the IT department, Agile techniques have moved out of the data centre and across all lines of business.

Smart companies use Agile techniques to bring in various stakeholders to explore how a business aim can be reached collaboratively. By working together, cross-organisation teams can take small, iterative steps towards fulfilling data-led business aims in 2021.

Effective data management

Even if organisations move towards completing business aims in an Agile manner, there is still one area where teams can come unstuck: poor data management. It is only possible to act on data if the information your business collects is consistent, accurate and secure.

Gartner says CIOs and their IT teams must as a matter of urgency prioritise spending on data management through 2021. The central role of data in the business is only going to increase, as companies rely on key performance indicators to ensure their organisation is making moves into the right market areas.

Your business will need to break down the traditional walls that define it. Rather than holding information in silos, CIOs will need to consolidate information so that decision-makers can make informed and intelligent choices. It will also likely see your storage costs drop, as deduplication frees up server space or cloud spend, and enables you to deliver file shares, which enhance security and limit the attack surface of your corporate data.

Great account management

CIOs face many challenges in implementing their longer-term plans, from IT budget constraints to rapidly evolving demands for technology applications. Delivering data-led digital transformation plans is made easier for tech teams with the support of trusted external partners.

To add value to the organisation and earn its trust, account managers need to demonstrate a deep understanding of all aspects, from the cloud through to data management, as well as the customer’s corporate culture.

Merely serving as a vendor is no longer enough – a closer relationship between a systems integrator or reseller and a customer leads to more efficient and effective execution. This will continue to be the way forward, as needs become more unique based on the challenges of a particular organisation.

2021 will be the year where businesses that are able to ride the wave will accomplish goals and deliver more return to the wider business. As we recover from the pandemic, the next 12 months will involve building on some of the lessons learnt in the previous year.

This is the moment for leaders to seize as we build the foundation for the next decade! – Feb 5, 2021


Ravi Rajendran is the vice president of Asia Pacific at Cohesity.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.




Subscribe and get top news delivered to your Inbox everyday for FREE