The Next Data Decade

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There are lots of predictions that people make at the start of every year. I've written quite a few over the years, but in 2020 I decided not to make any. After all, there are plenty of other people making them. One person that did make some was Jeff Clarke, COO of Dell. He wrote a blog called Paving the way for the Next Data Decade, which I thought was worth a read. Now that we're almost 4 months into the new decade, and dealing with a pandemic, I wanted to look back at his thoughts.

His first prediction is for 2020, where the glut of data and systems is confusing and unmanageable in many cases. Mr. Clarke thinks that CIOs will want to make data visibility a priority and perhaps simplify things. I do think many organizations want to simplify their data platforms and better understand and use what they have. I think many would like to decommission or abandon systems that aren't valuable. I think it's also very hard to do this.

I do see companies starting to try and standardize their development practices, not allowing every group to work in a different manner. Many want to use the same VCS, build tools, dev tools, and more. While some try to standardize on a database, most end up trying to just limit the number that are in use.

To that end, I also more companies not only using the cloud and hybrid infrastructure, I see many of them wanting to be in two clouds to ensure they aren't overly dependent on one vendor. I even see some regulatory authorities requiring this of large enterprises. Mr. Clarke's second thought is that companies will demand more of cloud vendors. I think they will, though vendor enhancements and offerings often drive us in the direction they move. Certainly security and data protection needs to improve, and it is. Maybe not enough, but more vendors are thinking compliance and security are important.

The third item is disconcerting, especially in the midst of a pandemic. Organizations worry about resources, and especially the OpEx/CapEx numbers. Many want flexible options, which is true of vendors. Some will contract for reserved capacity, maybe more now with everyone doing more in the cloud, but many want the flexibility to abandon those resources that aren't well utilized. I truly worry this might extend beyond compute resources to staff as well. This might be a time when it's important you show a lot of value to whoever pays you.

Other predictions are the edge, IoT, and intelligence in our devices and data systems will grow. That's easy to see, though in some sense it's expected. It's hyped, managers try it, and even if it doesn't appear to work, they may blame the workers more than the technology. I expect it will be years before we really know how valuable AI/ML is, but we'll keep trying in many orgs.

This will be an interesting data decade, though it's off to a rough start. I do worry about the future of employment for many. I think the key is to be flexible, continue to learn, and constantly improve your skills so that you can adapt to new requirements and meet them at a high level.

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