The most important part of creating virtual assistants will be the data and having the data drive actions and decisions, Burgelman noted. “This means considering all data—including real-time and behavioral data—and learning from all channels to create connected experiences customers expect. Powering these customer interactions through the understanding of all this detail will be critical for companies.”
Cloud computing, which has been a major force in the IT and data management space for close to a decade, continues to reshape database technologies as well. Cloud is increasingly the home of “systems of insight” that support advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence capabilities, said Roman Stanek, CEO and founder at GoodData. In Stanek’s view, a “unified technology platform in the cloud is the future of analytics and data in the cloud.” Data in the cloud is growing rapidly, and there is no way to manage that other than through a system of insight, he added. The industry is facing a confluence of trends, he noted. These include data growing exponentially and old BI failing, while advances in BI such as machine learning and predictive analytics make it ripe to take off.
Not only will there be systems of insight in the cloud, but multiple clouds for multiple use cases as well. Lately, there’s been movement to multi-cloud strategies, especially as more applications and innovations open up. “Most companies don’t set out to adopt a multi-cloud strategy,” said Jaspreet Singh, CEO and founder of Druva. “Rather, they choose to work with cloud vendors for specific use cases, and when we take a step back, we see a multi-cloud implementation. In that regard, multi-cloud is not a strategy, it’s an outcome of these decisions.
Bring on the Blockchains
Another technology that is seriously being explored by many enterprises is blockchain—an online global database that stores and manages smart contracts and transactions. Some observers see blockchain as the next great frontier for data management. “Right now, we only hear about blockchain with cryptocurrency and are starting to see emerging companies in the finance and healthcare space discussing the value,” said Avani Desai, executive VP of Schellman and Company.
The value may be in blockchain’s distributed nature—data is verified across multiple nodes, and thus protected from tampering. “Blockchain provides you 100% assurance that a transaction was valid,” Desai observed. “It shows me what was done, by whom, when, and maybe even the why. This provides transparency and reconciliation, one of the most difficult aspects of a distributed system.”
The move toward real-time computing and real-time enterprises is also shaping the database technology landscape this year. At the same time, many of the technologies with which data management teams are working may add more latency into transactions and computing jobs. “While moving to real-time is a trend, it competes directly with the move to microservices, distributed logs, and asynchronous stream processing,” said John Hugg, founding engineer and manager of developer outreach at VoltDB. “All of these things can make our systems more resilient and dynamic, but they often compound latency problems. Things that used to be a single network round trip might become dozens of asynchronous network messages.”