The Why, What, and How of Modern Data Platforms

Matthew Oatney
In a data-driven world, it's not about all the data businesses have access to, it's about extracting the insights from that data to make informed business decisions. A Modern Data Platform is a must for companies who want to deliver the right data to the right team members to make the right improvements to the customer experience. Learn more about this powerful tool.

Modern Data Platform technology has advanced rapidly, delivering better customer experiences and greater business problem-solving capabilities than ever before. Many companies have access to the data they need to better understand their customers and solve their biggest business challenges. But because of how the data is being collected and stored, they are unable to act on the important insights it can reveal to them. If this is you, keep reading to discover how you can revolutionize the way your company collects and engages with your important data to inform strong business decisions that support your goals.

Why Invest in a Modern Data Platform?

One of the biggest advantages of implementing a Modern Data Platform is business agility to keep up with your customers’ expectations and keep up with the competition. A well-structured Modern Data Platform helps you deliver actionable business insights in a timely manner to your team members who can act on those insights to solve your business challenges. It can also help you to realize cost and resource efficiencies by reducing data complexity and enabling powerful self-service capabilities.

The ability to support more advanced analytics is equally as attractive as the speed and efficiency gained. A Modern Data Platform can help you go beyond reporting what happened to predicting what will happen — accelerating your analytics maturity to become more forward-focused and purpose-driven.

While most businesses recognize the benefits of investing in a Modern Data Platform from a business growth perspective, there are several technical motivating factors to consider as well. These factors include:

  • Your existing platform is limited and unable to support the monetization of data.
  • The potential of cloud and DevOps principles for your data management.
  • Your current data platform is going out of service.

Regardless of the reasons a business is considering the shift, the swelling need for new systems of insights is clear. According to a recent Forrester Data Management playbook, 94% of CEOs view data about customer needs and preferences a critical component to their strategy. To data architects and engineers, this need may feel removed from the world of data management, but without Modern Data Platforms to power decisions, a business will not be able to keep up in the new customer experience economy.

What is a Modern Data Platform?

Today’s Modern Data Platform is a successor to data enterprises and data warehouses and a complete transformation of data and analytic ecosystems – Including infrastructure, tools, skills and operations. It reimagines, and re-platforms your data environments, so you can economically and sustainably leverage advanced capabilities to turn data from a cost center to a growth engine.

Your Modern Data Platform is built using a Modern Data Stack. These are the tools compiled to collect your data, store it, convert it, analyze it and deliver it in a useful way to help inform business decisions. Each piece is chosen to meet a specific data need and must speak to each other to ensure the new platform works seamlessly.

Companies with Modern Data Platforms experience:

  • Scalability – Built to grow and shift as your data needs grow or change.
  • Data-Agnostic Architecture – Brings together data from many platforms including in-house data, Cloud or outside data sets to give a holistic view of the customer journey.
  • High Performance Processing – Allows for more data to aid with Machine Learning or AI.
  • Availability – Makes the right data available to the right decision makers at the right time.
  • Automation – Creates efficiencies using automation to maintain scale.
  • Governance – Includes a management plan for compliance and growth.

A Modern Data Platform is made up of multiple components including, modern data warehousing, Machine Learning, AI development and real-time data ingesting and processing. When set up correctly with a strong Data Strategy, the platform becomes a powerful tool to guide business decisions and customer experience efforts.

‍The How of Building a Modern Data Platform

Once you have decided to move forward, several key factors will determine your ability to deliver on the promise and value of the investment in a Modern Data Platform.

Alignment with the Business Strategy

At the beginning of the project, work backward by envisioning your desired business outcomes. Think through your business goals, how data supports them and who on the team needs access to that data to make insightful business decisions. Defining these business outcomes ensures you are doing the work with purpose to solve your business challenges and create a better customer experience. This first step enables your team to create a prioritized roadmap – breaking down a complex project into smaller, simpler, more manageable and prioritized phases.

Willingness to Reimagine the Future

It’s important to look at the data ecosystem holistically. In addition to identifying the capabilities you need now, look to the future as well. What’s more, think beyond traditional needs to consider architecture trends that may apply to your business, like self-service analytics that empower line-of-business professionals to perform queries and generate reports on their own.

Alignment Across Teams

Include all stake holders in your initial planning to ensure you are uncovering each team’s challenges and data and analytic needs. This important step can break down company and data silos as well by uncovering redundancies across teams. Investing in a Modern Data Platform requires a strong partnership between IT and the business teams they support. Lack of alignment will result in pushback because of the perceived disruption and the lack of buy-in for the potential benefits of your new platform.

To succeed, the two areas must not look at themselves separately, but as one. This decision is not simply a decision about technology; rather, it’s for the organization as a whole.

Investment in Change Management

Implementing a Modern Data Platform is an opportunity to propel cultural change — one that needs buy-in from all parties involved. Structure your data management practices so that, at any given point in time, there is full visibility and accountability of what you’re keeping, throwing away, changing, or adding. Documenting fundamental changes in architecture and processes — and ensuring they’re fully traceable to those involved in the process — is key when rebuilding.

Getting Started with Your Modern Data Platform Transformation

Technologies have matured, and in many cases, companies no longer need to construct solutions from the ground up. However, with numerous options available, the challenge can be deciding which approach is right and how to balance the sophistication of the solution with the complexity required to manage it.

Below are three steps a data leader can take to get started:

  1. Define your strategy: Consult with the business to develop a data strategy that aligns to the business goals and outlines a crawl, walk, run approach to developing the capabilities needed.
  2. Use proven blueprints: Take advantage of existing reference architectures and successful design patterns.
  3. Prepare for Change: Ensure your team is prepared for the shift to automation and DataOps.

Your strategy needs to include what you can do in-house, what you should outsource, and what you should buy. From a cultural perspective, you must not think about the platform migration as a multi-year project. Today’s business environment is far too fluid and that requires you roll out the initiative in an iterative way to provide incremental value along the way.

Finally, there’s little value in simply changing platforms as you’re not removing the conditions and constraints that gave rise to the issues that prompted the change. Hosting a broader business architecture conversation and developing a Modern Data Platform that is revolutionary instead of evolutionary will enable data at scale and put your company in a position to standout.

Contact G2O for a Data Strategy Assessment

At G2O, our data and analytics team works with companies to build a strong data strategy foundation through our Data Strategy Assessment as the first step in building your Modern Data Platform. Accelerated by best-practice templates, automation, and a deep partner network, our experts help you prioritize data efforts to capture opportunities and support your business goals.

Contact us here to learn more about how a Data Strategy Assessment can help you create a data-driven tool that delivers value right from the start.