In today’s data-driven world, many organizations face major hurdles as they navigate a transformation journey that eliminates silos, unifies data, and transforms it into value. For many, building a culture of innovation remains elusive.

IDC’s Future of Intelligence predictions for 2023 show what’s possible when businesses get it right. Top-quartile enterprise intelligence performers are 2.7 times more likely to have experienced strong revenue growth over 2020–2022 and 3.6 times more likely to have accelerated their time to market for new products, services, experiences, and other initiatives.

But businesses must avoid trying to solve every problem and instead narrow focus to areas like customer experience or productivity, says Vrinda Khurjekar, Senior Director, AMER business at Searce.

Companies that commit to clear and focused action now will achieve a competitive advantage. Searce’s work in a range of industries indicates that successful companies embrace specific strategies and tools based on an intelligent data environment as they focus on building a culture of innovation. With data at the core of business strategy, operations become more seamless.

“If you don’t embrace data capabilities to help drive your culture, you’re definitely going to get disrupted,” says Khurjekar. “We’re seeing it across every industry. It’s no longer a ‘good to have’.”

Khurjekar cites several barriers that enterprises continue to face. They often have patchwork and duplicitous software and solutions. They want a better customer experience and to increase productivity, but there’s a lack of clarity as to what that means.

Finally, companies need talent to execute, however traditional enterprises continue to struggle with attracting top talent in a challenging job market.

To bring about culture change, Khurjekar says, organizations should pick one or two use cases to start with.

Customer lens

“If you’re trying to do too many things at the same time, the overall initiative gets lost,” she says.

Choose initiatives by looking through a customer lens, she adds, and collaborate “ruthlessly” with multiple departments. Employees, too, need to see success and analytics need to be used to help them not just customers.

Leaders that want to create a culture of innovation should start by looking at their current processes with a critical eye. If processes are not helping the company to get ahead, then a change is needed.

“Even before we get to the technological challenges, it’s about the willingness to really experiment and to disrupt yourself,” says Khurjekar. “You need to have that courage as an organization to do that.”

Next, it’s crucial to embrace data capabilities to help drive that innovative culture, including an intelligent data cloud that’s agile, discoverable, intelligent, trusted, and open. An intelligent data environment gives enterprises capability and scalability from an infrastructure standpoint to solve business problems more seamlessly.

“Cloud offers a good home to be able to experiment fast and also to put use cases into production quickly,” Khurjekar says. For example, a transportation company that needs to better secure its warehouses can’t wait several years to do so. It needs to be able to quickly connect to cameras already installed for better monitoring and alerting.

Cloud enables intelligent data-driven insights and allows businesses to do quick proofs of concepts and move into production fast, she says.

She adds: “As an organization, if you say, no, I’m going to build on my own, you’re missing out.”

Cloud removes the overhead so the business can focus on solving the problem at hand.

With its data and analytics services, applied AI service, and secure API product Recognic.AI, Searce helps support clients across the entire spectrum of their data journey. Organizations that take steps toward developing a data-driven culture appreciate that this is an ongoing, long-term process.

“It is truly a journey and not a one-time thing,” says Khurjekar.

To learn more about how Searce can help, click here.

Analytics

Merger and acquisition (M&A) activity hit a record high in 2021 of more than $5 trillion in global volume. While the market has certainly slowed this year, it remains on par with pre-pandemic levels — quite a feat at a time of business uncertainty and inflation. But when it comes to corporate deal-making, risk lurks around every corner. The potential for overpaying, miscalculating synergies and missing potentially serious deficiencies in a target company is high.

With so much at stake, information is power. But while plenty of focus is centered on gathering financials, reviewing contracts, picking through insurance details and more, insight into IT risk may be harder to come by. Acquiring organizations need a rapid, accurate way to assess and map all of the endpoint assets in a target company, and then work quickly post-completion to assess and manage cyber risk.

The need for visibility

M&A deal volume may have fallen 12% year on year in early 2022, but the market remains bullish, driven by cash-rich private equity firms that are sitting on trillions of dollars, according to McKinsey. Still, security and IT operations are a growing concern for those with money to spend. It’s extremely rare for both sides of a deal to have similar standards for cybersecurity, asset management and key IT policies. That disconnect can cause major problems down the road.

Due diligence is therefore a critical step; enabling acquiring firms to spot potential opportunities for cost savings and synergies, whilst also understanding how risky a purchase a company may be. It benefits both sides. If an acquirer is unable to gain assurances around risk levels, they could theoretically call a deal off, or lower the offered acquisition price. Should they press on regardless, the organization may experience significant unforeseen problems trying to merge IT systems. Or it might unwittingly take on risk that erodes deal value over time – such as an undiscovered security breach that leads to customer class action suits, regulatory fines and reputational damage. 

These concerns are far from theoretical. After the discovery of historic data breaches at Yahoo, Verizon’s purchase price of the internet pioneer was adjusted down by $350m, or around 7% of deal size, back in 2017.  Marriott International was not so lucky when it bought hotel giant Starwood. It wasn’t until September 2018, two years after the acquisition and four years after the initial security breach, that an unauthorized intrusion was finally discovered. The breach turned out to be one of the biggest to date, impacting over 380 million customers, and led to an £18.4m ($21m) fine from the UK’s data protection regulator.

Getting due diligence right

In an ideal world, CIOs would be involved in M&A activity from the very start, asking the right questions and providing counsel to the CEO and senior leadership team on whether to proceed with a target. However, the truth is that this isn’t always the case. Such is the secrecy of deal-making that negotiations are usually limited to a small handful of executives, leaving some bosses on the outside. 

The best way CIOs can rectify this is to proactively educate senior executives about the importance of information security due diligence during M&A. If they succeed in embedding a security-by-design culture at the very top of the organization, those executives should be able to ask the right questions of targeted companies, to judge their level of risk exposure early on. They may even be inclined to invite the CIO in to help.

For most organizations, however, the first critical point at which due diligence can be applied is after an acquisition has been announced. This is where the acquiring company must gather as much information as possible to better understand risk levels and opportunities for cost reduction and efficiencies. SOC 2 compliance would make things run much smoother, providing useful insight into the level of security maturity at an acquired firm. But more likely than not, the acquiring company’s CIO will need to rely on their own processes.

Visibility is everything. They need accurate, current data on every single endpoint in the corporate environment, plus granular detail on what software is running on each asset and where there are unpatched vulnerabilities and misconfigurations. That’s easier said than done, and most current tools on the market struggle to provide answers to these questions across the virtual machines, containers, cloud servers, home working laptops and office-based equipment that run the modern enterprise. Even if they are able to provide full coverage, these tools may take days or weeks to deliver results, by which time the information is out of date.

Managing post-deal risk

The second opportunity for the CIO is once contracts are signed. Now it’s time to use a unified endpoint management platform to deliver a fast, accurate risk assessment of the acquired company’s IT environment. By inventorying all hardware and software assets, they can develop a machine and license consolidation strategy, eliminating redundant or duplicated software. The same tools should also enable CIOs to distribute new applications to the acquired company, scan for unmanaged endpoints, find and remediate any problems, and enhance IT hygiene across the board.

M&A is a high-risk, high-pressure world. By prioritizing endpoint visibility and control at every stage of a deal, organizations stand the best chance of preserving business value, reducing cyber risk and optimizing ROI.

Learn more about how Tanium can help manage risk and increase business value during mergers and acquisitions.

Risk Management

Merger and acquisition (M&A) activity hit a record high in 2021 of more than $5 trillion in global volume. While the market has certainly slowed this year, it remains on par with pre-pandemic levels — quite a feat at a time of business uncertainty and inflation. But when it comes to corporate deal-making, risk lurks around every corner. The potential for overpaying, miscalculating synergies and missing potentially serious deficiencies in a target company is high.

With so much at stake, information is power. But while plenty of focus is centered on gathering financials, reviewing contracts, picking through insurance details and more, insight into IT risk may be harder to come by. Acquiring organizations need a rapid, accurate way to assess and map all of the endpoint assets in a target company, and then work quickly post-completion to assess and manage cyber risk.

The need for visibility

M&A deal volume may have fallen 12% year on year in early 2022, but the market remains bullish, driven by cash-rich private equity firms that are sitting on trillions of dollars, according to McKinsey. Still, security and IT operations are a growing concern for those with money to spend. It’s extremely rare for both sides of a deal to have similar standards for cybersecurity, asset management and key IT policies. That disconnect can cause major problems down the road.

Due diligence is therefore a critical step; enabling acquiring firms to spot potential opportunities for cost savings and synergies, whilst also understanding how risky a purchase a company may be. It benefits both sides. If an acquirer is unable to gain assurances around risk levels, they could theoretically call a deal off, or lower the offered acquisition price. Should they press on regardless, the organization may experience significant unforeseen problems trying to merge IT systems. Or it might unwittingly take on risk that erodes deal value over time – such as an undiscovered security breach that leads to customer class action suits, regulatory fines and reputational damage. 

These concerns are far from theoretical. After the discovery of historic data breaches at Yahoo, Verizon’s purchase price of the internet pioneer was adjusted down by $350m, or around 7% of deal size, back in 2017.  Marriott International was not so lucky when it bought hotel giant Starwood. It wasn’t until September 2018, two years after the acquisition and four years after the initial security breach, that an unauthorized intrusion was finally discovered. The breach turned out to be one of the biggest to date, impacting over 380 million customers, and led to an £18.4m ($21m) fine from the UK’s data protection regulator.

Getting due diligence right

In an ideal world, CIOs would be involved in M&A activity from the very start, asking the right questions and providing counsel to the CEO and senior leadership team on whether to proceed with a target. However, the truth is that this isn’t always the case. Such is the secrecy of deal-making that negotiations are usually limited to a small handful of executives, leaving some bosses on the outside. 

The best way CIOs can rectify this is to proactively educate senior executives about the importance of information security due diligence during M&A. If they succeed in embedding a security-by-design culture at the very top of the organization, those executives should be able to ask the right questions of targeted companies, to judge their level of risk exposure early on. They may even be inclined to invite the CIO in to help.

For most organizations, however, the first critical point at which due diligence can be applied is after an acquisition has been announced. This is where the acquiring company must gather as much information as possible to better understand risk levels and opportunities for cost reduction and efficiencies. SOC 2 compliance would make things run much smoother, providing useful insight into the level of security maturity at an acquired firm. But more likely than not, the acquiring company’s CIO will need to rely on their own processes.

Visibility is everything. They need accurate, current data on every single endpoint in the corporate environment, plus granular detail on what software is running on each asset and where there are unpatched vulnerabilities and misconfigurations. That’s easier said than done, and most current tools on the market struggle to provide answers to these questions across the virtual machines, containers, cloud servers, home working laptops and office-based equipment that run the modern enterprise. Even if they are able to provide full coverage, these tools may take days or weeks to deliver results, by which time the information is out of date.

Managing post-deal risk

The second opportunity for the CIO is once contracts are signed. Now it’s time to use a unified endpoint management platform to deliver a fast, accurate risk assessment of the acquired company’s IT environment. By inventorying all hardware and software assets, they can develop a machine and license consolidation strategy, eliminating redundant or duplicated software. The same tools should also enable CIOs to distribute new applications to the acquired company, scan for unmanaged endpoints, find and remediate any problems, and enhance IT hygiene across the board.

M&A is a high-risk, high-pressure world. By prioritizing endpoint visibility and control at every stage of a deal, organizations stand the best chance of preserving business value, reducing cyber risk and optimizing ROI.

Learn more about how Tanium can help manage risk and increase business value during mergers and acquisitions.

Risk Management

The CIO has a real ability to achieve a competitive advantage for its business through data. This is the underlying purpose of the digital transformation exercises that have been so significant to IT in recent years. For the CIO to be successful with this, there needs to be a comprehensive strategy that extends far beyond simply deploying new technologies. Many CIOs are now working with an IT environment that can deliver a modern data strategy but are struggling to unlock the full potential.

The first step for CIOs is to break down internal barriers and address the problems caused by data siloed in legacy environments. As we saw in the previous article (How The CIO Can Become The CMO’s Best Ally In The Use Of Data), this ultimately comes down to the CIO’s ability to achieve stakeholder alignment across the executive team.

As Warren Jenson, LiveRamp President, said, failing to do this first can be counter-intuitive to the company’s data goals. “Alignment between the company’s mission and goals to each area of data collection, monetization, and collaboration creates a clear road map for interlocking data and business strategies, eliminating the possibility of missing new revenue-generating opportunities.”

The four steps to data advantage

A recent report from LiveRamp outlines the four steps that can bring a company to data maturity.

1) Match the tech strategy to the business strategy. “Disorganized data and disjointed digital tools often cause decision fatigue that can further disconnect business goals from tech and data strategies,” Jenson said. Organisations that can properly align their data environments stand to gain a significant competitive advantage.

Stephan Zimmerman, a Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company, confirms this sentiment in the LiveRamp report. “Companies should have a consistent data blueprint linking use cases to create business value and identify early wins to help build momentum for the organisation.” This is important, since the executive buy-in the CIO has earned needs to deliver quickly in order to encourage further investment for even higher value, but longer-term, projects.

2) Invest in an identity solution. Identity enables enterprises to unify and consolidate their customer view, which is an ongoing challenge for most businesses today. “Identity awards your consumers with more personalisation, better experiences across channels, and helps prevent an unhelpful or repetitive ad experience,” Jenson said. “For internal stakeholders, identity strengthens customer intelligence, improves ROI and generates new revenue streams across sales, marketing, IT and other departments, among many other benefits.”

In short, an identity solution is critical to being able to properly analyse and leverage customer data. Here, LiveRamp uses the retail vertical as a use case: “E-commerce often exists entirely separate from data generated by in-store operations. Imagine what insights merchandisers could glean if they were able to analyse transactions and other pertinent data across the full customer journey?”

An identity solution that is defined as “people-based” enables intracompany and intercompany data collaboration while allowing the CIO to maintain tight control over these assets.

3) Collaborate with partners. With the proper controls in place, the CIO can start to bring their organisation’s data together with second- and third-party data to generate far deeper and more powerful insights. A good example of this is media companies, which have deep analytics into their audiences and can segment according to the needs of their partners. In collaboration with the CMO, the CIO can bring their company’s own data in connection to a media partner for better targeting and measurement.

“Publishing and the TV industries have rich and valuable data sets. Thanks to the rise in granular privacy controls that mitigate risk of unauthorized data access or use, both are growing areas where meaningful data partnerships are finally possible,” Jenson noted.

4) Use data to build new revenue streams. By step four the CIO is delivering meaningful new revenue streams to their business, which can then be reinvested into other initiatives. The retail industry is a prime example. By leveraging its wealth of first-party data assets to set up a retail media network, Amazon was able to generate $31.1 billion in ads, and Walmart $2.1 billion for its own.

The LiveRamp report also shares the experience of Boots, which went from 7 percent of media being booked using first-party data, to over 40 percent using data collaboration to unlock customer insights. “The opportunity has to be that you are there in that moment of customer need. Having that passion for the customer, backed with the data that says, if we know our customers better and we understand their lives and the role we play in them, and we are looking out for those key moments and using the best technology, then that’s how we’re going to win.”

Data is undoubtedly a major point of investment for organisations. A recent McKinsey report noted that in a company that has $5 billion in operating costs, third-party data sourcing, architecture, governance and consumption will cost $250 million –  2 percent of the cost in itself. When managed well, and supported by the right tools, this becomes a competitive advantage and investment into further growth for the business.

For more information about getting started with your data collaboration strategy, click here.

Data Center Management

Modernization is on the minds of IT decision makers, and with good reason — legacy systems cannot keep up with the realities of today’s business environment. Additionally,      many organizations are discovering their modernization advantage: their developer teams, and the databases that underpin  their applications.

“Legacy modernization is really a strategic initiative that enables you to apply the latest innovations in development methodologies and technology to refresh your portfolio of applications,” says Frederic Favelin, EMEA Technical Director, Partner Presales at MongoDB.

His remarks came during an episode of  Google Cloud’s podcast series “The Principles of a Cloud Data Strategy.”

This is much more than just lift and shift,” Favelin continues. “Moving your existing application and databases to faster hardware or onto the cloud may get you slightly higher performances and marginally reduce cost, but you will fail to realize the transformational business agility and scale, or development freedom without modernizing the whole infrastructure.”      

The ‘Innovation Tax’

For many organizations, databases have proliferated, leading to a complex ecosystem of resources — cloud, on-premise, NoSQL, non-relational, traditional. The problem, Favelin says, is organizations have deployed non-relational or no-SQL databases as “band aids to compensate for the shortcomings of legacy databases.”

“So they quickly find that most non-relational databases  excel at just a few specific things — niche things — and they have really limited capabilities otherwise, such as limited queries, capabilities, or lack of data consistency,” says Favelin.

“So it’s at this point that organizations start to really feel the burden of learning, maintaining and trying to figure out how to integrate the data between a growing set of technologies. This often means that separate search technologies are added to the data infrastructure, which require teams to move and transform data from database to dedicated search engine.”

Add the need to integrate increasingly strategic mobile capabilities, and the environment  gets even more complex, quickly. In addition, as organizations are striving to deliver a richer application experience through analytics, they sometimes need to use complex extract, transform, and load (ETL) operations to move the operational data to a separate analytical database.

This adds even more time, people and money to the day-to-day operations. “So at MongoDB, we give this a name: innovation tax,” Favelin says.

Toward a modern ecosystem

Favelin says a modern database solution must address three critical needs:

It should address the fastest way to innovate, with flexibility and a       consistent developer experience. It must be highly secure, have database encryption, and be fully auditable.Next is the freedom and the flexibility to be deployed on any infrastructure– starting from laptops, moving to the cloud, and integrating with Kubernetes. It must be scalable, resilient, and mission critical with auto scaling.Finally, to offer a unified modern application experience means that the developer data platform needs to include full text search capabilities, must be operational between transactional workloads and analytical workloads, while bringing the freshness of the transactional data to the analytical data in order to be as efficient as possible to serve the best experience for the users.

“The MongoDB developer data platform helps ensure a unified developer experience,” Favelin says, “not just across different operational database workloads, but across data workloads, including search mobile data, real time analytics and more.”

Check out “The Principles of a Cloud Data Strategy”  podcast series from Google Cloud on Google podcasts, Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.Get started today with MongoDB Atlas on Google Cloud on Google Marketplace.

Cloud Architecture, Databases