The 2016 Crystal Ball – What’s Next in Data?

Venky Ganti
Venky Ganti, Ph.D. CTO

With the year coming to a close, many look back at the headlines that made major waves in technology and big data – from Spark to Hadoop to trends in data science – the list could go on and on. Looking in the rear-view mirror not only affords reflection, but can also show us what’s plausible for the year ahead. Considering what we’ve seen this year in industry trends and patterns, we have compiled some predictions for 2016 from our co-founders at Alation.


Venky Ganti, CTO & Co-Founder:

Data sprawl will finally hit its threshold. Data sprawl has been prevalent for several years. But the generation of insights has failed to scale at the same pace. No one has paid much attention until now, likely because the issue was difficult to understand and address. In 2016, people will realize the importance of scaling the generation of insights in parallel with the data – and finally have the ability to manage sprawl and realize new levels of insights from the data.

2016 will be the year of the “logical data warehouse.” The infrastructure to support the ‘logical data warehouse’ is deployed already from Presto to Teradata UDA, etc. However, most are only deployed over one data store (Hadoop or other various backends). In 2016, these will increasingly be deployed to query multiple data sources. The implication will be doing away with some (if not all) of the ETL work required to gather all of the data in one data warehouse. The logical data warehouse will mean self-service analytics at a much faster pace.


Aaron Kalb, Head of Product & Co-Founder:

The CDO will move closer to the head of the table. In 2016, Chief Data Officers (CDOs) will shift their attention from risk mitigation and traditional governance to monetizing data through faster, more reliable insight generation and the development of data science products. A key data-based decision or a new recommendation engine that generates revenue could catapult a CDO into a strategic role, beyond the regulatory box-checking that might characterize their initial stint on the job.

Reports will be just the beginning. In years past, the conclusion of an analytics project was often marked by the creation of a report, which decision makers could view and consult periodically. But such reports will be insufficient to drive results and beat the competition in 2016 and beyond. As business leaders yearn to know not just what’s happening, but why, ad-hoc analysis techniques will need to be employed faster and by a wider group than just the technical elite. Organizations with software enabling such data democratization and drill-down will excel.


Satyen Sangani, CEO & Co-Founder:

Visualization will no longer be synonymous with self-service. Despite the initial investment in Hadoop, self-service visualization products, and data warehouses and marts, enterprises will continue to struggle with satisfying the analytical requirements of everyday business users and analysts. Organizations will contend with problems ranging from data literacy — knowing how to use the data, analytical productivity — time to discovering the insight, data quality and data availability. Additionally, given the massive volume of new data, more than any organization could reasonably accommodate, enterprises will still struggle with the proverbial ‘needle in the haystack’ problem of stewarding such a large amount of data. A variety of tools will come in to the self-service mainstream including data catalogs to help people discover data, data preparation tools to help people manipulate data and advanced analytical packages to help people leverage the power of data for discovery and prediction.

Let the consolidation acceleration begin (or rather, continue). Data infrastructure players will consolidate further in 2016. As technology valuations decline, cash-rich enterprise software companies like Oracle and Microsoft will start to buy up many of the cash-poor data companies, adding accretive growth streams to the mega vendors. Keep an eye on companies with price to sales ratios of less than five as potential targets for this year’s buys.

From data sprawl and CDO’s move to the c-suite to an increase in market consolidation, 2016 looks to be a banner year in data once again. As we forge on in the ever-changing landscape, one thing rings true: data’s value in every business decision will finally take hold and the ability to find, transact and interact with data will become analogous to writing an email. So, we cheer to 2015 and welcome the new year with open arms, ready to embrace the data landscape ahead in 2016.

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