Welcome to 2018. Let’s hope that this will be a year of prosperous growth and a year where all f our IT challenges are firmly put behind us.

While 2016 formed the base upon which the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) was established, the 4IR really grow and established itself as a world changer in 2017. The driving force of this is data which is rapidly becoming a commodity that it more sought after than gold, oil and even Bitcoin.

Data is growing at a rate of 39% per year, according to a recent report by storage vendor Veritas that was based on a study of 86% of Fortune 500 companies.

I recently read an interesting article on enterpriseinnovation.net which discussed some of the biggest data trends that will influence the IT industry in the future.

Taking responsibility

According to the article, IT will be forced to take responsibility for cloud data management.

According to the article, in 2017, we learned that 69% of organizations across the globe wrongfully believed data protection, data privacy and compliance were the responsibility of the cloud service providers. This significantly increased the likelihood of data breaches. The figure is observed to be higher in countries such as Singapore (77%) and China (81%).

Pair this with the current wild west style adoption of multiple clouds – with many customers putting cost considerations aside – IT departments will get a sudden and rude awakening in 2018, finding that they are responsible for management in the cloud (possibly through a breach).

The article adds that CFOs will also demand cuts in infrastructure costs.

Applying the brakes

According to the article, data storage will slow for the first time as user mentality changes.

Data continues to grow exponentially, filling valuable storage capacity at an incredible rate. The annual data growth rate skyrocketed to 48.7% last year. In fact, more than 50% of files being stored by organizations were of unknown nature.

The article added that we will start to see successful companies shifting their storage strategies from a save-it-all mentality to one that identifies and stores data that provides valuable insights or mission-critical information in 2018.

Falling foul

According to the article, one of the first companies to be fined under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be outside of Europe.

The article added that despite the impending deadline (May 25, 2018), only 31% of companies surveyed by Veritas worldwide believe they are GDPR-compliant. Similar figures were shown for Australia (30%) and South Korea (31%).

In Singapore, only 18% of organizations believed that they are GDPR compliant. This is the lowest figure in the region. Penalties for non-compliance are steep and this regulation will impact any company that deals with European Union (EU) citizens.

Clever management

According to the article, IQ boosts from analytics will revolutionize data management.

The focus will shift away from expanding the capacity for archiving, backup and storage – driven by advancements in analytics. Expect new data valuation techniques to get a boost from AI to reshape information lifecycle management through the automation of policy enforcement and more intelligent data management actions.

The article added that organizations will also tap into their traditional repositories to unleash insights that power new discoveries, sales initiatives and customer experiences across a wide array of verticals.

Increased attacks

According to the article, the severity of data breaches will increase in the future.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Centre, 2016 saw 1,093 data breaches. This is a 40% increase from 2015, while 2017 almost hit that mark by July.

The article added that with the surge in data breaches, it is critical for companies to have a simple, holistic way to regularly protect and backup workloads in the cloud, in complex environments and on-premises.

In fact, protecting the entire infrastructure is ideal – especially one that is agile, smart and scalable as ransomware reaches deeper and farther than ever before into both old and new workloads.

Be proactive

There are some pretty stern warnings contained within the above information. However, this does not mean that companies can ignore data management altogether. On the contrary, there needs to be increased vigilance rather than a head-in-the-sand approach.

According to an article on itpro.co.uk, effective data management can be achieved by mastering three core disciplines.

Optimised data access

The article pointed out that enterprise data management should ensure users have seamless, secure access to whatever data they need, no matter where it may be physically stored.

It also needs policy-based contextual awareness to deal with data across its lifecycle, so you’re no longer storing data that no one needs.

Data visibility

According to the article, global data visibility and control of data is another crucial element, and it must be independent of any application or storage location.

That means data should be visible regardless of whether it’s stored on an in-house storage array or associated with a cloud-based application. There should also be absolute clarity on who has access to and ownership of all data to manage risk.

Service durability

The article said that enterprises need to ensure data is always protected and available by making the end-to-end service infrastructure across their different landscapes resilient, along with making sure this infrastructure can quickly rebound from any service disruption.

The unprecedented growth in data demands that organisations take a fresh look at enterprise data management. It’s imperative not only to get costs under control, but to provide the sort of data visibility, resiliency, protection and optimised access that’s required if enterprises are to make effective use of their data.

While there were significant challenges in 2017, 2018 may prove to be a year of immense prosperity for IT based companies. There is a general feeling that the 4IR can only benefit society and can offer some major support to companies who want to grow their businesses.

However, these companies need to throw caution to the wind and cannot be scared at the level or pace of change that the 4IR brings. Fortune most certainly favours the bold.