Many businesses fail to respond with the boldness or speed required to survive
and thrive in an environment of increasing commoditization. Leveraging DataOps, you can innovate and get ahead of your competition.
This article was originally published on the Delphix website here December 27, 2018.
Commoditization is a real threat for companies in highly competitive markets. As differentiation becomes harder, standing out in a world of commoditization means having a better customer experience, better customer service, and quality customer interactions. Tying data to the brand through a DataOps approach can improve each of these aspects and create differentiation.
Why does this matter? Take the case of Target. After years of outsourcing technology and relying on old methods such as capital planning and waterfall management to run their business, the retail giant rebuilt its engineering culture, embraced a method aimed at faster development and deployment cycles, and created collaboration across software development teams. As a result, they’ve made great progress in their business by strengthening their engineering capabilities into a key go-to-market success.
If you’re a business leader, you realize that both the speed and cost of bringing new features and products to market is tied directly to testing cycle time. If you take a hard look at what prevents testing from going faster, where companies experience risk, and where costs arise in testing, you’ll find data behind that curtain. DataOps is a new means to connect people to data, empowering them to overcome data friction and achieve the velocity of innovation demanded by the digital economy.
Because of where it lives functionally, DataOps shares many of the capabilities and interests of DevOps, continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD), test data management (TDM), extract, transform, load (ETL), masking, and cloud migration.
Essentially, DataOps is a culture and practice that aims to improve outcomes by bringing together those who need data with those who provide it, eliminating friction throughout the data lifecycle. It does this by providing a comprehensive approach to reduce data friction across 5 key areas.
- Governance: Security, quality, and integrity of data, including auditing and access controls
- Operation: Scalability, availability, monitoring, recovery, and reliability of data systems
- Delivery: Distribution and provisioning of data environments
- Transformation: Modification of data, including masking and platform migration
- Versioning: Capture of data as it changes over time, with ability to access, publish, and share state across users and environments
Here are 3 key capabilities you need to achieve DataOps, a sustainable strategy to produce high quality software at a faster rate.
Self-Service Data Controls & Great Customer Experience
Being able treat your data like code, and putting that power in the hands of a developer or tester means that key activities that govern your feature pipeline gets much faster as rapid refresh of data, easy swapping of data environments, and rapid return to baseline become common. Lightweight virtual data environments, like data pods, allow developers and testers to branch, rollback, reset and bookmark, extending virtual data on-demand to application development teams. That leads to more well-tested features out the door faster, which in turn is a powerful predictor of a great and differentiated customer experience.
Virtualization & Great Customer Service
Data virtualization makes large datasets very lightweight by eliminating storage burden without sacrificing usability. Using a single data platform, like Delphix, you can provision data in just minutes to any environment. By being able to reproduce the state of large datasets very quickly, as well as being able to rapidly swap from one thing to another (e.g., working a bug to releasing new code), you can radically reduce the cost of error as well as the cost of switching context. As a result, teams are able to discover bugs more quickly, triage problems, and test out solutions. Cloud-like elasticity for datasets means problems get fixed faster, which in turn is a powerful predictor of great and differentiated customer service.
Integrated Masking & Great Customer Interactions
Trust is hard to earn and easy to lose. Data in non-production environments for development, testing and reporting represent almost 90 percent of the attack surface for data breaches. Identifying and irreversibly masking sensitive data values to neutralize the risk to customer’s data in those environments from both insider threats and breaches is paramount.
Automatically detecting and securing data values using masking technology can drive compliance with key regulations and accelerate cloud adoption with reduced data security risks. Additionally, integrating masking with data virtualization ensures security of sensitive data prior to distribution out of production or source system environments at an accelerated pace. Trust is the basis for great customer interactions. Trust builds confidence, and a customer’s trust in your company can be the key differentiator in all of your customer interactions.
Putting it all Together
Warren Buffett’s shareholder letter summed up the lot of companies stuck in the world of commoditization: “There are no important advantages from trademarks, patents, location, corporate longevity, raw material sources...and very little consumer differentiation to produce insulation from competition." Buffett continues to discuss the only real differentiation companies can provide are people and level of service.
Businesses are competing in a new era, where data is transforming established industries. In order to innovate faster than your competition, rapid and secure access to data should be at the heart of every enterprise initiative. Key capabilities, including self-service data controls, data virtualization and provisioning, and masking, are instrumental in enabling secure data to flow across organizations and contributing to great customer experiences, great customer service, and great customer interactions built on trust.
Companies that succeed in commoditized environments don’t win because of what they deliver, they win because of how they offer it. It’s the experience brands bring to customers that makes all the difference.