When this article was published, Mark Adams was UK&I Regional VP at Veeam

For the first time in history, 2018 saw cloud computing enter the Slope of Enlightenment on Gartner’s Hype Cycle. This is when cloud started becoming a must-have for any digital business, rather than just something CIOs and IT managers talked about but didn’t necessarily adopt in their organizations.

Looking at the Gartner Hype Cycle for data management more broadly, there are an array of other technologies all with different levels of understanding, importance and relevance. From DataOps and Machine Learning-Enabled Data Management at the entry stage of Innovation Trigger, to Data Integration and Information Archiving approaching the Plateau of Productivity – while Cloud is quickly becoming recognized as an industry standard, Data Management is also growing rapidly in its importance to businesses.

Moreover, businesses are also beginning to understand their data more clearly. Success is increasingly being determined by being able to access the right data at the right time and recover it when it’s lost or damaged.

Achieving a state of Cloud Data Management

With Cloud Data Management, data is available across the business and can be centrally managed, controlled, and located so it delivers the most value for organizations. Today’s digital and data-driven economy means that companies of all kinds struggle to function without the ability to manage data across multi-cloud environments as well as ensure it is protected no matter where it resides. Maintaining data availability at all times is vital in allowing teams to respond instantly and appropriately to what matters, anywhere across their IT infrastructure.

The 2019 Veeam Cloud Data Management report surveyed over 1,500 business leaders globally and found that almost half of them (44 percent) see data management as critical to their businesses’ success in the next two years. It’s not hard to see why, when respondents in the UK have experienced an average of six unplanned outages in the last 12 months.

Scaling with the cloud

European Commission statistics highlight how more than half of enterprises in the EU are now making use of advanced cloud services, whether this is through financial and accounting software applications, customer relationship management (CRM) or other kinds of tools valuable to the enterprise. The rate of usage is only going to rise, as hyperscalers - those companies that currently dominate cloud services such as Google, Facebook and Amazon - continue to layer services that add further value onto their stacks, and in the process enabling customers to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, big data analytics, and voice and image search to derive greater business value from their data.

This trend is also supported by the fact that nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of companies that responded in the UK are looking to Cloud Data Management to enable more intelligent use of data across the business. Business leaders are turning to data management strategies to deliver increased productivity, maintain corporate stability and improve their ability to forecast and make more informed decisions. Thirty-percent of respondents in the UK stated that Intelligent Data Management initiatives are critical to their organization’s success over the next two years.

Boosting confidence

Given the pressure digital business puts on its IT infrastructure, CIOs need to have confidence in the IT technology they have in place to help their organization remain responsive, available and competitive. Outages, breaches and other kinds of data incidents can have a huge impact on internal confidence, stunt future innovation, and sap customer trust. Almost three-quarters (73 percent) of organizations have admitted that they are unable to meet users demand for uninterrupted access to applications and data. This may partly explain why only 25 percent of business leaders reported total confidence in their capability to meet their digital challenges.

While the right investment in robust, scalable and flexible technological solutions to challenges like data backup and disaster recovery is important, organizations also need the right skills and talent in place to use these technologies to their greatest extent and value. It’s no surprise then that UK business leaders have said they will spend an average of $14 million in the next 12 months on technology deployment to help build a more intelligent business.

A cultural transformation

With these levels of investment being planned, it’s clear that the expectation of what data management can do for businesses is extremely high. And once that funding is put in place, the appetite for a return on it is huge – business leaders expect to see financial benefits from the deployment of new technologies in nine months, and operational benefits in seven months.

These relatively short turnaround times for results to be realized means that employees need to get quickly up to speed with the new systems. In fact, the vast majority (91 percent) of organizations view improving employees’ digital skills as vital to their success. Doing this sometimes requires an element of wider cultural transformation, particularly when an organization is looking to establish and perform more data-driven decision-making processes.

Establishing a data-driven culture

The cloud is a great equalizer for businesses – leveling the playing field in terms of the technological horsepower they have access to. Most businesses are now producing a wealth of data – often more than they know what to do with, and which isn’t always valuable. This is where the edge is found, where data is managed, analysed and used to inform faster and more effective decision making. A business can easily produce huge amounts of data, but if there isn’t a culture that takes the value of it seriously at the C-level, it will remain a burden rather than an advantage.

Business leaders largely see the importance of this, with more than two-thirds (69 percent) agreeing that company culture needs to become more open and accepting as they digitally transform, while 93 percent agree that leadership styles will also need to change. Cloud Data Management offers an opportunity for every kind of business and is something which should be implemented at the most senior level of the business to be the most effective. It’s at this point that execution right across every level of the business becomes more realistic.

The future of every organization is in strong digital foundations that center on data availability. Viewed in this way, technology has never been so important to a business’ success. Organizations around the world rely on a whole host of digital platforms for all kinds of operations, from simply keeping the lights on right the way through to creating ground-breaking, new offerings for customers. Combined with a truly data-driven culture which maximizes the value of the data available to the business, the next-generation of industry disruptors and innovators will be able to scale securely and confidently.