2021 Aspirations: Moving Beyond Resilience

by Sam Gutmann, Chief Executive Officer - OwnBackup

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We’re thrilled to kick off the first month of 2021 with big funding news this week, putting OwnBackup in an excellent position to scale up to our next exciting stage of company growth. As we celebrate this exciting “unicorn” milestone, it’s a great time to reflect on what we’ve learned and accomplished—both as a business and in the industry overall. Business resilience is one area where we’ve noticed significant progress over the past year in particular. 

Over the past few months, several team members here at OwnBackup shared thoughtful blog posts about ongoing trends that continue to drive business resilience. Last year, many corporate leaders made impressive strides amidst a very uncertain climate. Today, more than ever, CIOs and CEOs realize the importance of building resiliency into their business so they can keep operations running smoothly around the clock.

When the pandemic increased everyone’s reliance on digital tools, it also raised awareness for the reality that even robust cloud apps like Salesforce are only as powerful as the mission-critical data they store. And accidental data loss or corruption is a fact of life, especially when most teams are moving as fast as they possibly can to develop new services or business models that cater to customers’ changing needs (and respond to competitive pressures). No CIO wants an avoidable data problem to become the obstacle that slows down sales, customer support, or digital innovation. 

While COVID-19 brought resilience to the forefront, several pre-existing market dynamics were already pressure-testing business agility. Here’s a recap of five related macro trends we’re seeing:

1) Digital Acceleration

Competition from the likes of Amazon and similarly tech-forward businesses is pushing all companies to evolve. This ‘Amazon Effect’ should not be ignored, since McKinsey has noted that companies that invest in innovation during times of crisis typically outperform the market by more than 30% during recovery years. 

2) A Crisis in Tech Trust

Unless the intelligence driving your business can be trusted, it’s worthless. And if customers don’t trust you to protect their data, they’ll take their dollars elsewhere. Intentional data governance strategies are needed to ease compliance and increase customer trust.

3) Cloud Complexity

A typical IT environment spans best-of-breed cloud apps, connected IoT devices, big data, and even blockchain. As businesses modernize their tech stack, data volumes, velocity, and complexity (as well as faulty code) all grow exponentially, creating cascading implications that make cloud data harder to manage.

4) Democratized Development

The increasing prevalence of low-code and no-code development tools also impact resilience. In particular, it often leads to more human error related to application configurations or integrations, which can interrupt business.

5) AI as a Force Multiplier

One of the best ways organizations can maintain relevance is to lean heavily into artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analytics. Rather than pressing pause on complex data science projects because of COVID-19, smart businesses are doubling down on those initiatives to reinvent digital offerings.

How to Run in The Cloud and Never Fall Down

These evolving challenges create barriers to resilience that make it harder than ever for IT teams to respond to emerging threats. Here are some strategies we recommend for increasing your team’s pace of innovation while proactively preventing debilitating data loss:

  1. Up your data protection game: Consider that every admin, integration, and line of code is a potential culprit for disruption to processes and transactions that rely on SaaS data. Eliminate downtime by better safeguarding your customer, employee, and product information with automated daily backups (and recovery, when needed).

  2. Embrace data analytics: Use all the information at your disposal to create more accurate predictive models that analyze your business’ past performance and anticipate the future. By regularly snapshotting customer interactions and business outcomes, you can preserve invaluable company history.

  3. Master effective (yet efficient) data governance: Get ahead of regulatory headaches by carefully preserving data in reliable, secure, audit-ready archives with preset retention policies.  

  4. Remove friction from innovation with sandbox seeding: Avoid unnecessary inefficiencies in your development cycle by streamlining time-consuming tasks like selecting and anonymizing data records, sizing data sets, and navigating metadata.  

Each of these strategies will help you transform your business, improve user confidence and trust, and navigate the many complexities of your technology ecosystem.

Don’t Just Survive; Build Resilience To Thrive

2021 will hopefully be the year many business leaders can shift their focus beyond basic survival tactics, and towards more long-term strategies for resilience and transformation. We’ll see the ‘fittest’ digital companies rise to the top and many others disappear, as it becomes crystal clear that slow-playing digital adoption and IT modernization is no longer an option. Laggards who fail to recognize this won’t have much hope of catching up. 

In order to keep pace with aggressive innovation, more IT organizations will adopt best-of-breed SaaS apps for critical business plumbing, no-code/low-code/pro-code development, fully automated CI/CD methodologies, and cloud-native applications. As long as you have the right data protections in place, the resources these strategies free up can focus on building new and better digital touchpoints with end customers. I also expect many traditional business continuity and data governance practices to face disruption this year. In the wake of COVID-19 and increased compliance requirements, several industries will realize that their decades-old approaches are ripe for reimagination. As a result, new tools and strategies should emerge to improve companies’ preparedness and responsiveness before the next major disruption.

As the world makes progress in the battle against COVID-19, I expect we’ll see a simultaneous shift in the business environment. However, most companies’ strategies and operations won’t revert back to ‘normal,’ but towards an even better ‘next normal’ in the years ahead. Frequent fluctuations in operating models, customer demand, workforce needs, and more is now our status quo. At OwnBackup, our belief more than ever is that no company operating in the cloud should ever lose data, especially during tumultuous times like these. We look forward to advancing this mission even further with new product developments in the months to come.

Global CIO Institute

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