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2020 Data Management Trends: A Focus on Privacy, Cloud and Access

IT pros faced more data management and analytics challenges in 2020 as governance became more stringent and cloud became increasingly important amid moves to remote work.

A lot of things changed in 2020, but one thing didn’t: Effective data management remains a top priority for IT pros, driven by a surge in machine learning, remote operations and cloud computing as major business priorities. New studies from Matillion and IDG Research released in November found that businesses are increasingly moving their data storage to the cloud and value data portability but are still spending too much time on data analysis and still struggling with data control. 

Those aren't the only data management trends that gained momentum in 2020: This fall, a market study from Cohesity found that mid-to-large enterprises are interested in data management as a service and want solutions that are customizable and multifunctional. That same study also found that IT decision makers say inefficient data management makes it harder for smaller firms to compete with larger ones.

Just one of many potential examples of the importance of data management came in early December when Google announced its acquisition of Actifio, a data management company that will now become part of Google Cloud. 

Data management remains a hot area for investment and acquisitions, like the one made by Google, and that means that data privacy is as well. Even as companies readjust spending priorities amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, executives are still prioritizing investment in data privacy. Even if most jurisdictions aren’t covered by regulations like CCPA or GDPR, the damage to business security, reputation and client trust that results from a breach or data misuse is a risk.

Here are three of the data analytics and data management trends that took center stage in 2020 – with a through-line of effective and secure handling of the increasingly cloud-based enterprise environment. 

Changes to Data-Related Legislation

Data governance and privacy were important in the enterprise space this year and will remain so into 2021. Chief information security officers are increasingly important executives as data stores grow, enterprise becomes increasingly distributed and security threats expand.

One facet of this area is the emergence of legislation that governs the data that companies can collect, store and use. This year, the California Consumer Protection Act came into effect on January 1 and enforcement began on July 1. But many organizations reported that they were unprepared even six months after the law came into effect. The pandemic likely didn’t help matters either.

More changes to California’s data privacy legislation will come; voters in the state approved a ballot measure to beef up the CCPA and create a watchdog agency. And some firms, including Microsoft, have already pledged to follow the CCPA requirements nationwide, not just in California. 

With a new American president set to enter the White House in January, this data governance and privacy space will be one to watch – there could be a push for national regulations. Joe Biden’s approach to big tech on this and other issues remains to be seen.

Cloud Continues to Present Data Management Challenges

Enterprise investment in hybrid cloud environments has been a big story for a few years. In late 2019, Gartner forecast that worldwide public cloud revenue would grow by 17% this year. But cloud investment took on new – and immediate – importance as businesses around the world moved to remote operations for safety beginning in the winter and early spring.

Cloud computing will only become increasingly important from here. On December 1, Amazon Web Services began its re:Invent conference with announcements about new services for the public cloud platform, including the inclusion of Apple’s macOS for cloud computing. 

But the increasing value of cloud computing – and the increasing number of staffers using cloud environments as they went remote earlier this year – means data management continues to be an important area for organizations dealing with ever-increasing amounts of data and shifting permissions for who can access it, and where. Expect cloud computing to continue to impact data management trends in the coming year.

Data Access Gets Democratic – and Introduces New Tech Concerns

To that last point, the data generated and collected by organizations is no longer the sole province of the IT department – being able to analyze, model and act on that data is now a core business requirement for all sorts of employees. Increased data access is now an organizational priority.

Thanks to new software, the increasing integration of machine learning into existing software and the rise of no-code programming, non-IT professionals are increasingly able to gain insights from data and put it to valuable use.

However, this also means that employees who can access data must know how to do to so securely and in line with existing regulations – and that permissions for that access are well managed, on site and in the cloud. That’s still a job for IT pros. And data access should still be expanded strategically, as there is a risk of ineffective or damaging data analysis being done by employees who are not properly trained on the available software. While IT may not be the department that educates employees on the best practices for data analysis, they are usually best situated to help assess the data analysis tools and services that their enterprise will buy. These assessment and support demands aren’t going away – and neither are these data management trends.

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