Data is the fuel that powers modern business. But as demand for data surges, so does the pressure on data leaders and practitioners to deliver it. Businesses need resilient data pipelines that deliver critical insight for real-time decision-making to users on demand. However, against the backdrop of today’s chaotic modern data ecosystems, this is much easier said than done.
DevOps teams are struggling with a complex combination of legacy and diverse technology systems across multiple environments. The resulting siloed systems and an ever-shifting data supply chain cause significant data integration friction. This friction keeps businesses from creating seamless and resilient pipelines to drive digital transformation and other business outcomes. Businesses need a better way to take the pressure off data leaders and DataOps practitioners and enable line-of-business teams to do more of the “last mile” data collection and analysis themselves. To achieve this, they need a unified, end-to-end platform designed to build resilient pipelines.
Data Demand Sparks Friction
The acceleration of digital transformation has created a demand for data that far exceeds supply. This has become especially true as competitive advantage gets harder to carve out and worrying macroeconomic headwinds gather. In today’s climate, all areas of the business are demanding data, but it’s hard to meet every request all the time.
Research that polled data leaders and practitioners shows nearly half (48%) of admin and operations and customer service departments request data at least weekly, followed closely by accounting and finance (44%), IT and digital (43%) and sales and marketing teams (40%). And the strain is showing. Over half (59%) of data leaders said changing priorities have created significant data supply chain challenges.
The problem is one not just of capacity but complexity. Building pipelines from source to destination requires rules to integrate, transform and process data. But when data is siloed across cloud, legacy and mainframe systems and stored in inconsistent formats, creating bespoke data pipelines to fulfill departmental requests is a huge challenge.
Legacy systems also bring another challenge. Over half of data leaders say it’s so difficult to unlock data from legacy systems like mainframes that they simply don’t bother. That will ultimately undermine the value of the cloud analytics tools that many business leaders see as a single source of truth for decision-making–especially as legacy systems often hold decades of vital business insights.
This patchwork approach creates extra toil for DevOps, DataOps and technical teams and means that over two-thirds (68%) of data leaders said they are being prevented from delivering data at the speed the business needs.
The Scourge of Broken Pipelines
For many organizations, building pipelines is also a labor-intensive job requiring a high degree of manual effort to produce hand-coded, one-off solutions. The resulting pipelines are brittle and vulnerable to being disrupted whenever there is a shift in the environment–such as adding new data sources. In fact, two-fifths (39%) of data leaders admit their pipelines crack at the first sign of trouble, and 87% have experienced a break at least once a year. More than one in 10 say it happens at least once a day.
The most significant cause of breakages is due to bugs and errors being introduced during a change (44%) while infrastructure changes such as moving to a new cloud (33%) and credentials altering or expiring (31%) are also creating disruption. These broken pipelines immediately impact the corporate bottom line. They also force technical teams into a vicious cycle of firefighting. Data engineers spend, on average, almost a third (31%) of their time troubleshooting and recoding broken pipelines–time that could be better spent on value-adding tasks.
But the negative impacts aren’t only felt operationally. The breakage of any pipeline can also lead to bad decision-making. For example, a supply chain director working with old data may over- or under-order goods or a financial trader making stock picks on out-of-date intel may lose money for a client.
Unleash the Power of Data
For organizations looking to overcome these challenges, the first goal is to reduce the workload on DevOps, DataOps and technical data teams by empowering business units and end users to do more. Research shows that 70% of technical data leaders are responsible for the last mile of data collection and analysis while 86% of them would prefer lines of business teams, such as marketing or finance, to be empowered to do this independently. However, this can only become a reality if organizations invest in the right data integration platform. It must be able to build, run, monitor and manage smart data pipelines at scale from a single console–across all cloud and on-premises environments. And it must be able to deliver resilient pipelines built to withstand continuous change.
Only by eliminating data integration friction and enabling self-service analytics for lines of business can organizations accelerate digital transformation. Doing so will unleash the power of data across the enterprise and reduce the burden of overworked data leaders and practitioners.