In 2021 Keep an Eye on Data

Most organizations are firmly entrenched in the second phase of digital transformation, where digital expansion and scaling business through technology are the priorities.

Lori MacVittie

December 22, 2020

4 Min Read
In 2021 Keep an Eye on Data
(Source: Unsplash)

There are few words with which to describe the upheaval in our lives throughout most of 2020. No aspect of our lives has been left untouched by the onset of a global pandemic.

For most businesses, 2020 did not markedly change their strategic direction; it merely accelerated it. Years of digital transformation took place in just months. IT and app development rose to the challenge and enabled remote work, remote entertainment, and remote life. We remain connected through digital lifelines that deliver food and family via applications and networks that you have deployed and operate. 

Thank you. You don't hear that enough, so let me say it again: thank you! 

One of the unintended blessings of the pandemic has been a shift in focus from technology to people. We are, overall, putting humans first. Whether it's for collaboration, communication, or commerce, the focus of technology has shifted from what we can do with it to enabling people to engage with business and family. 

That's an important shift because supporting people is not the same as enabling them. Support is providing a digital service. Enabling ensures people can use it. A focus on enablement pays attention to the people who use technology and how they use it. Enablement educates and empowers people to do their jobs, conduct business, and communicate with each other.

CIOs play a role

Within IT, we see this shift occurring at the highest levels of the organization, with CIOs moving from a role to support business to that of a role that enables business. This rapid progression has led to most organizations firmly entrenched in the second phase of digital transformation, where digital expansion and scaling business through technology are the priorities. 

The next year will see the continuation of this accelerated pace of transformation. Momentum gained in the past twelve months will not be interrupted as we run headlong into a new year with new options, new applications, and new initiatives to act upon.

As organizations continue to anticipate and react to the needs and demands of employees and customers alike, they need to keep in mind that this journey they are on is not over yet. The foundations laid in 2020 will be expanded in 2021, of that there is no doubt. There will be more modern applications. More digital business. More remote work. More cloud and a growing portfolio of apps and services and things at the edge.

And with that will come complexity. Managing that complexity starts with visibility but cannot stop there. Knowing about problems that occur in this increasingly distributed system is only half the battle; knowing why those problems occurred and, more importantly, what to do about it is the other half. 

Solutions to address "the other half" will begin to take shape in 2021. In the new year, it will be important to consider how the systems, applications, and services you're putting into place will fit into a bigger, data-driven picture. As you're building new applications, embracing edge, and automating everything in sight, keep these key questions in mind:

  • Is the app instrumented to provide the data you'll need to quickly identify why it failed?

  • Is the infrastructure capable of producing telemetry that helps you target the culprit of poor performance?

  • Do you have a strategy for bringing it all together and leveraging analytics to not only tell you what is wrong but why it went wrong and what you can do about it? 

The final phase of digital transformation is an AI-assisted one. And AI relies on data. Data from apps. Data from infrastructure. Data from interfaces. Data from everywhere. To enable your organization to get there, you'll need to be thinking about data as you continue to put in place the applications, systems, processes, and people you'll need to enable users to engage.

In 2021, keep your eye on the data - where it's being generated and where it's ultimately going.

Have a safe and happy holiday season.

About the Author(s)

Lori MacVittie

Principal Technical Evangelist, Office of the CTO at F5 Networks

Lori MacVittie is the principal technical evangelist for cloud computing, cloud and application security, and application delivery and is responsible for education and evangelism across F5's entire product suite. MacVittie has extensive development and technical architecture experience in both high-tech and enterprise organizations. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University. She also serves on the Board of Regents for the DevOps Institute and CloudNOW, and has been named one of the top influential women in DevOps.

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