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Scale, digitise, optimise: Cloud-based analytics is reshaping data and the business

Johannesburg, 05 Jul 2023

Gartner describes cloud as the "new data and analytics platform". Forrester believes data and analytics are "key cloud battlegrounds" with intense competition in a market rich with solutions and ever-evolving capabilities. Cloud has become the digital equivalent of a loom, weaving together disparate data threads from across silos, legacy systems and multiple data sources to create a more coherent tapestry of insights and value.

Cloud-based analytics solutions allow for companies to radically reimagine scale. This is key at a time when the extraordinary quantities of data produced every second by every organisation and individual is projected to exceed 180 zettabytes by 2025. HPE defines it as a data deluge. The average organisation defines it as an expensive problem.

This is because data costs money to store, analyse, use and manage. It pours in from transactions, social media, customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, internal projects, applications and websites, forming lakes and pools of data that often sit forgotten, their value lost and untapped. Companies aren’t sure where to start or what systems to implement to ensure their data does more than just take up space - which takes the conversation back to cloud-based analytics.

Cloud and SaaS platforms allows for the organisation to develop a more robust data infrastructure that’s capable of storing and processing large volumes of data in a scalable and elastic manner. The tools utilised within the cloud analytics stack provide the organisation with greater visibility into the data and, as McKinsey so aptly describes it, the ability to treat data as a product which makes data ‘easily findable and accessible’.

By creating an ecosystem that leverages cloud-based analytics tools, the data problem shifts to become a data solution. Augmented analytics, predictive analytics, machine learning (ML) and intelligent data storage in cloud warehouses - these are the layers within a highly agile and capable cloud analytics architecture that can potentially transform how you access, manage and interpret your data.

However, there are challenges. Cloud-based analytics platforms offer your business immense capabilities and can potentially redefine how you shape the business, strategy and customer engagements. It can definitively deliver on customer delight and highlight gaps within service delivery and business capability that allow for you to streamline processes and enhance products and services. But it will only tick all of these boxes if your cloud data platform is chosen within its own definitive strategy and is accurately aligned with your business.

It is what Gartner believes is the single biggest challenge around data and analytics within the cloud - laying the right foundation for your data and analytics and how they are structured and integrated within your organisation. You need a robust cloud management strategy, awareness around data sovereignty and gravity, seamless orchestration across your cloud ecosystem, and next-generation security and governance compliance.

The balance lies in building an architecture that’s crafted around your business. Your data sources, data demands and insights expectations will be very different to those of another organisation, so you need a solution that’s built to fit within your architecture and on a foundation that’s aligned with your strategy. This makes it worthwhile to leverage third-party expertise from strategic data technologists with the skills and expertise required to help your organisation find the right foundations so you can reshape your data and your business.