Cautiously Optimistic: Five Data Predictions for 2024

5 fresh predictions for the upcoming year, all based on the latest trends and shifts our CTO noticed in data management recently

Shakespeare hit the nail on the head in "The Tempest" when he said, "What's past is prologue." In the fast-paced world of tech, this means we're not just repeating history; we're setting the groundwork for the next big thing. It's all about building on what came before, and sometimes, like with the recent surge in generative AI, we see huge, unexpected strides.

With this in mind, we asked Rex Ahlstrom, our CTO and EVP of Innovation and Growth to put together five fresh predictions for the upcoming year, all based on the latest trends and shifts he’s noticed in the data management scene.

Prediction 1: The executive level will place more importance on data quality

Data and its quality are the unsung heroes of business success, but it's surprising how often this gets sidelined at the top tiers of companies. When we asked executives about it, we hit a curious gap between what they think and what's actually happening. Over 80% are confident in their data, but the reality is a lot of elbow grease goes into making that data trustworthy and usable. As we move forward, expect to see the topic of data quality pop up more in the boardroom. It's all about putting Data First.

Prediction 2: To meet desired customer outcomes, the larger platform play will gain traction

In today's market, it's not enough for companies to just push products – they need to do more than just sell tools and solutions. Savvy customers are looking for more bang for their buck — they want to see a real return on investment (ROI) before they commit. This is pushing businesses to switch gears from offering a bunch of one-off solutions to creating integrated platforms. For the vendors that have been playing a one-note tune, it's time to think about teaming up or merging to stay in the game and deliver the full package that customers are starting to demand.

Prediction 3: Rising adoption of generative AI will increase need for clean data.

Clean data is the secret sauce for generative AI—it's what makes the magic happen. Think of it this way: no matter where you're scooping your data from, be it a fancy model or a dusty old database, quality is key. It's the classic "garbage in, garbage out" scenario. Bad data can result in bad recommendations, inaccuracies, and so on. With more businesses jumping on the generative AI bandwagon, nailing down a solid data governance game plan is crucial. And don't forget—your data stewards need the keys to the kingdom to keep that data in check.

Prediction 4: Thanks to AI, the shift to data fabric will accelerate.

As I looked at the data landscape at the end of last year, I thought more companies would shift from a data mesh approach to a data fabric; this would help flatten information silos and make data available to business users more quickly. Though this hasn't happened as quickly as I'd thought it would, it's a trend that's accelerated. Next year, greater adoption of AI and other self-discovering technologies will drive this trend harder. Data fabric has been a topic of conversation for several years, and now that more advanced AI has emerged, it will become a bigger goal for companies.

Prediction 5: Generative AI will plunge from the peak of inflated expectations to the trough of disillusionment.

Generative AI is all the rage right now, grabbing the spotlight and getting everyone talking. But this buzz has a flip side: it's got companies jumping on the bandwagon, adopting AI more as a trend than a true fix to a problem. I'm betting that in 2024, we'll witness a good chunk of change sunk into generative AI ventures that don't quite hit the mark. That's why I'm predicting the slide from inflated expectations for gen AI to disillusionment. Senior leaders will suffer from "shiny new object syndrome," feeling the pressure to throw together a generative AI program. What will limit the number of these failed programs is companies making sure they understand the specific reason for using generative AI. They must keep in mind that its use must be tied to a defined business outcome. 

Cautious Data Optimism

The data scene has been a whirlwind of change lately. It's clear companies have to stay on their toes, but it's not just about keeping pace. A solid, smart strategy for wielding data is crucial. Enter the Data First strategy: it's about elevating data to a VIP status in the business strategy, making it the cornerstone for all the big moves a company plans to make. If businesses start seeing data as the opening act rather than a postscript, they're more likely to nail their data migration projects and score big in the long run. Here's to more companies catching on to this and making it their New Year's resolution.

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