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Jun 27, 2023
Data Modernization

How Data Modernization is the Key to Becoming a Data-First Leader 

Throughout human history, data has been an integral part of the decision-making process. The more data we have at our disposal, the better equipped we are to comprehend the past and navigate the future effectively. 

With businesses generating unprecedented data from various global sources, we must update our practices for capturing and storing this information. We must act fast to keep pace with the ever-increasing amount of data being produced and their need to act quickly. According to research firm Statista, the data is expected to soar to 181 zettabytes by 2025, up from 97 zettabytes this year.  

(To put that in perspective, a zettabyte equals one billion terabytes.)  

According to a McKinsey study, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated cloud spending and migration.

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Modernizing a company’s data infrastructure is essential to quickly managing, storing, and acting on data. However, legacy systems that store a single data type in silos can no longer keep up with the ever-increasing demand for real-time data. To overcome this challenge, businesses must move past legacy systems and embrace modernization in the cloud. This allows for data unification with advanced new features and services not available in legacy systems, resulting in more robust and efficient data management.  

What is Data Modernization? 

Put simply, data modernization is the process of transferring data from legacy databases to modern databases, making it crucial for organizations that store unstructured data like images, social media comments, clinical notes in healthcare, and customer voice audio. It offers substantial cost advantages over traditional data management technologies

The appeal of modern data architectures, such as cloud data warehouses and lakes, lies in their ability to empower more people to leverage analytics for insights more efficiently. By implementing effective data governance and democratization measures, more people can self-serve trusted data, thus enabling data-driven decision-making across the organization.  

A data modernization strategy helps businesses optimize intelligence tools (BI) and enhance data privacy and security across all cloud, multi-cloud, and hybrid IT environments, creating a more efficient and secure data management and governance system.  

The Role of the Cloud in Data Modernization

As mentioned before, data modernization is intricately linked to the cloud. A recent survey by Deloitte indicates that most organizations (91 percent) store their data primarily on cloud platforms, with the remaining nine percent planning to migrate to the cloud soon. Interestingly, 57 percent of the organization’s businesses operate on the cloud, even though some of their applications and data are still on-premises due to regulatory requirements.  

While on-premises modernization projects are still feasible, many organizations prefer to move their data to the cloud simultaneously. This highlights the cloud’s essential role in data modernization. The correlation between modernization and the cloud is evident in survey participants, with 55 percent considering data modernization as a crucial aspect of cloud migration, second only to security and data protection. The C-level executives surveyed rank it as the primary driver of cloud migration, with 65 percent agreeing.  

Migrating to cloud-based data platforms offers several benefits, including extracting more value from data. With cloud architecture, businesses can take advantage of the following:  

Elasticity  

With cloud-based data platforms, businesses can adapt to demand and dynamically provision or de-provision resources as required, leading to significant cost savings. This elasticity means companies can quickly scale their infrastructure up or down based on their current needs.  

Capacity  

Cloud-based data platforms provide businesses with access to the right resources to support their data applications, implying no more overspending.  

Automation of Data Pipeline  

Businesses can consolidate all their data sources into a single repository and automate data pipelines, enabling data to be processed more quickly and accurately while reducing the need for manual intervention.  

Advanced Tools  

Cloud-based data platforms provide access to the latest tools without purchasing additional licenses, ensuring businesses keep up with the rapidly changing tech landscape.  

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5 Benefits of Data Modernization

Companies often face the issue of data silos, where data is stored across various systems, such as legacy solutions, applications, cloud-based systems, and data stores. To unlock the actual value of data, it is essential to integrate and combine data sources in innovative ways. This is the only way to extract insights across a fragmented data architecture.  

When a company’s data estate is broken and siloed, it can significantly hinder analytics projects. In such an environment, analytics tools cannot provide the insights necessary to drive growth and innovation. Data modernization solves this problem by enabling the development of systems and processes that generate revenue.  

Here are some of the benefits of data modernization across different business verticals:  

1. Data Processing  

You need to collect and correlate data efficiently to use it effectively. Data modernization reduces the time required for users to find valuable insights and analyze relevant events. Your strategy should empower business users with a means to connect and suggest data sources to one another.  

2. Better Business Intelligence (BI)  

By combining data from multiple systems and teams, a data warehouse enables a more accurate and comprehensive view of business performance and operations.  

3. Greater Accessibility  

With remote work becoming increasingly prevalent, people require the ability to access data from any location, including their homes. 

Data modernization can enhance visibility into sensitive data, allowing you to restrict access without hindering people’s ability to carry out their job responsibilities. This ensures that the right individuals can access the correct information while preventing unauthorized access and maintaining data security.  

4. Improved Decision-Making  

Access to real-time data empowers individuals to make informed decisions quickly and confidently. Through data modernization, you can facilitate data democratization by granting appropriate access levels to your workforce, allowing them to leverage a self-service analytics environment to collaborate, innovate, and share insights and knowledge.  

With everyone on the same page and equipped with the right data, your organization can stay agile and responsive in a rapidly changing business environment.  

5. Use of Reliable Databases with Data Governance  

Establishing various policies and standards to govern data management, protection, and monitoring can significantly enhance data accuracy. Additionally, these measures can ensure compliance with regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS, FERPA, CCPA, and other relevant standards.  

Improving data quality enables you to create adaptable and scalable processes that can help reduce costs and increase margins. This can result in greater productivity, improved customer satisfaction, and enhanced profitability.  

What is a Data-First Modernization Approach? 

A data-first modernization approach involves anchoring a company’s business strategy on dataidentifying the business-critical aspects of data, where it is used, and how to make the most out of it — to stay ahead of the competition.  

Data is an organization’s priceless asset, and building a strategy by keeping data on the frontline is essential. Without a proper modernization strategy, data remains siloed and stored across legacy systems, preventing you from capitalizing on its full value and hindering profitability.  

A data-first modernization approach allows you to leave data where it resides and rethink infrastructure to enable efficient processing and storage. Your organization gains the relevant insights that help increase productivity and efficiency and opens new revenue streams. Cloud operational experience simplifies data management and provides automated data protection and workload placement.  

When data is easily accessible from edge to cloud, your business can centralize operations and re-organize IT services, offering capabilities as a service to reduce costs and gain efficiency. Moreover, easy access to data enables you to automate analytics workflows, integrate AI capabilities, and scale quickly, thereby reducing management overhead and enhancing agility. 

Developing a Data-First Modernization Strategy  

Reimagining IT infrastructure and services is crucial to achieving a data-first strategy that provides the flexibility and agility of the cloud. Follow these steps to stay on course:  

  • Determine Business Goals: Start with business goals that all stakeholders have agreed upon and align every aspect of data management around them to modernize and get the most out of data.  
  • Coordinate Data: Identify where data exists and coordinate all management activities with a unified view from the edge to the cloud.  
  • Map Services: Map applications to business services while incorporating compliance, workload, and latency requirements.  
  • Upskill/Reskill IT Talent: Upskill or reskill internal teams and partner with consultants to deliver the competencies needed.  
  • Automate Operations: Adopt an AIOps process to simplify and scale workflows, accelerating smart app deployment across hybrid environments.  
  • Manage Support: Drive organizational change by obtaining buy-in from key stakeholders at every level of the enterprise.  
  • Be Flexible: Ensure room for continuous improvement and growth as you adapt to changing business needs.  

Major Data Modernization Examples  

Cloud migration and data modernization have proven to be game changers for many companies looking to achieve their strategic goals. 

24 Hour Fitness, a US-based fitness industry pioneer with over 440 clubs, is a prime example.  

The company wanted to provide more personalized offers and contracts to its four million members but found its on-premises data architecture unable to deliver. To solve this issue, the company migrated its critical data to a cloud-based data lake and warehouse. As a result, its data is refreshed 40% faster, and data from nine different sources are consolidated into a single cloud repository. 

The fitness organization also adopted new cloud-based applications, allowing its transactional and analytical systems to provide the necessary customization and always stay updated. According to the company’s president, Karl Snaft, this has enabled 24 Hour Fitness to provide “mass consumer personalization that scales.   

Just Energy is an electricity and natural gas provider to more than 1.6 million customers throughout the United States and Canada. The company encountered several challenges involving handling a rapidly growing amount of information from customers and employees, which needed to be addressed. They partnered with TechBlocks to develop and deploy a customized Microsoft SharePoint Solution that streamlined their IT infrastructure and optimized the growing number of business processes they implemented

Just one year after bringing the Microsoft SharePoint solution online, Just Energy experienced a significant increase in company-wide efficiency. In fact, more than 85% of their employees have adopted the Microsoft SharePoint solution in their day-to-day operations, indicating that the cultural shift into a successful large and growing company is underway.  

Read More: Digital Transformation Of A Utility Company From Legacy To Cloud Centric 

These examples demonstrate how cloud migration and data modernization go hand in hand and can help solve complex business and information challenges, such as personalizing customer information and leveraging predictive analytics for operations.  

Data Modernization with TechBlocks  

Selecting the right technology partner is critical to a successful data modernization strategy. At TechBlocks, our experts offer a comprehensive approach to reimagining your data platform in the cloud, aligned with your business objectives, to help you succeed.  

Our process is deliberate and effective. We work with you to identify key priorities and establish clear measurement criteria. Our team of experienced architects and engineers streamlines the modernization of your legacy data systems and applications, minimizing service interruptions and reducing costs. We also provide upskilling support to your employees to help them adapt to new technologies.  

We take a personalized approach to your data modernization goals, creating and executing a tailored roadmap to meet your unique business needs.  

Contact us today to learn more about how our experts can help you achieve your data modernization objectives.

About the Author

Kevin Gordon

Born in Technology, Raised in Marketing – This is the one-liner Kevin uses to describe his 20+ year career. Kevin is our Director of Marketing and joined the team in 2021, coming from technology start-up, SkipTheDishes.

Starting out in technology, Kevin has a unique blend of technical and marketing experience, with experience as a computer hardware technician, web designer, programmer, Windows & Linux systems administrator, and product development manager, which has allowed Kevin to lead a team of high-performing developers and systems administrators to build integrated omnichannel marketing & sales technology platforms used in retail stores across Canada and the USA.

In addition to his technology background, Kevin has 12+ years of progressive data-driven marketing experience in B2B and B2C industries, including legal, retail, agency, financial technology and more, with over eight years of direct leadership experience in marketing roles.

Kevin has education in Diversity & Inclusion from Cornell University, Business Administration and Project Management from Red River College and additional formal training in Change Management and Business Analysis.

Kevin Gordon