Data platforms are the new databases

At Hieda we frequently use the term data platform instead of database, and you might be forgiven for thinking that this is a bit of self-aggrandizement from our end. But we have noticed first hand how the role of data has vastly expanded in the last few years, and so has the role of the humble database expert.

But what is a data platform exactly? And when should you as a business start thinking about data platforms, and maybe enlisting the help of some data platform experts? We listed some of the top reasons below.

The new role of data

There was a time when data in an organization mostly consisted of structured information like employee payroll, financial reports & sales accounts. Data was mainly meant to be stored, and only used periodically, so the database expert’s role was mainly to make sure no data got lost.

But with the rise of mobile devices, big data and now machine learning, data is suddenly everywhere. And it’s not just being stored, but processed as well. These days, data needs to be highly available, reliable and integrated in almost every part of a business. And thus the database expert needs to evolve in a similar direction. The data platform expert is no longer an isolated librarian, but an integral part of the development & operations team and a crucial part of creating a data-driven organization.

That’s why we believe data platforms are the more accurate term for our expertise. When properly set up, a data platform serves as a support structure for all the data driven activities within your organization. Just like building a house, you need to set up solid foundations before you can start building.

Signs you need data platform expertise

Don’t get us wrong, not everyone needs to suddenly change their approach towards data. But there are a few clear signs that indicate when your organization should start thinking about data platform expertise

  1. Activating your data
    Soundsobvious, but when you want to do more with your data than just storing it andmaybe generating a few reports here and there, you need to start thinking abouta proper data infrastructure. Take for instance machine learning, which needsnot only data for training purposes but also a proper data pipeline to ensureyour model keeps learning and adapting during production.
  2. Launching a new digital product
    Bothinternal & customer-facing applications require a thought out data architectureto function properly. Many applications starting with ‘just a database’ runinto issues when the application has matured leading to costly databaseinterventions/migrations later on. Having data platform expertise during thedesign phase ensures your applications are future proof and resource efficient.
  3. Scaling users
    Lookingto scale the amount of users for your application(s)? Whether it’s going fromone to ten, or million to millions, data platform expertise is crucial toensure your applications keep working at the same standards your users havecome to expect. Higher user numbers also mean higher costs, so this is theperfect time to optimize your data infrastructure resource usage as well.
  4. Scaling data
    Therecent years have seen an exponential increase in the amount of data, but alsoin the amount & variety of data sources being used, both internaland external. Integration is therefore key, and ensuring your applications canuse multiple data sources efficiently is a perfect example of how a dataplatform surpasses the traditional database offering.
  5. Making applications future proof
    Evenwhen none of the above are on your immediate radar, it’s still worthwhile tothink about how you might use your applications in the future. As they say, anounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as there’s nothing worse thanhaving ambitious plans delayed or thwarted because of a lacking foundation.Data platforms are not only meant to support your existing applications, butalso to serve as a perfect foundation for future data-driven initiatives.

Expertise is key

You might have noticed by now that we haven’t overwhelmed you with acronyms and technologies to illustrate our point. Truth is, data platforms aren’t defined by technology, but rather by how data is treated in an organization. Technology is still crucial, but it’s mainly about having the right expertise in the right location & time.

Luckily, this is exactly what we at Hieda do best. Our service ensures your organization always has the proper expertise on hand. Get in touch, and we’d be more than happy to discuss how we can help your organization move to a data platform approach.

May 18, 2022
Bart Callens

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