Interxion’s Séamus Dunne looks at the data trends CIOs and IT teams need to watch out for this year, from data management to security.
Despite the global disruption caused by the pandemic, enterprises’ CIOs and IT teams will be put under more pressure from the CEO to digitally transform themselves in 2021, while controlling costs as quick as possible.
This pressure will be intensified as other competitors pivot or offer new services and solutions digitally, all driving exponential digital growth. There are a number of trends that are likely to impact enterprises this year.
1. Colocation connectivity services will play a critical role
The data centre is evolving to support hybrid IT infrastructure and will play an essential economic role as the connectivity hub to Ireland’s transforming digital economy.
Recent research from ESRI shows that ICT services and software, of which data centres and connectivity services are the critical backbone, account for 26pc of all of Ireland’s export activity. According to a recent report by Host In Ireland, 96pc of data centre ecosystem companies are optimistic about business for the upcoming 12 months.
The Digital Capitals Index for Dublin from Digital Realty showed new technologies such as AI, IoT, blockchain and 5G added approximately €1.23bn to Dublin’s economy in 2019, with IoT contributing the most at €630m.
More importantly, by 2029, these new technologies are primed to contribute even more growth, with an estimated €6.37bn contribution to Ireland’s economy.
2. Exponential data growth will lead to new challenges
IDC predicts that 175 zettabytes, or 175trn gigabytes, of new data will be created around the world by 2025. Gartner also predicts that we will see global colocation connectivity investment grow by 6pc in 2021 alone.
A recent Data Gravity Index report suggested that Dublin will be among the top five European cities that will contribute to Europe’s growth in data in the coming years, following London, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. On a global level, Dublin is also expected to outpace cities and data centre hubs like Mexico City, Sao Paulo and even Shanghai to be among the top 20 cities to experience annual data growth by 2024.
Enterprises will need to adapt and plan for managing this explosive data growth on a near real-time basis, putting pressure on existing IT and accelerating hybrid and multi-cloud transitions.
3. Hackers become more sophisticated as data value grows
As enterprises pivot to cloud computing and hybrid working, cybersecurity will remain a key issue.
With the recent cyberattacks in the US, as well as on the European Medicines Agency, we predict that bad cyber actors will continue to launch increasingly sophisticated attacks in 2021 targeting cloud computing and remote workers, exploiting weaknesses in lack of training or gaps in business processes.
These attacks show that cybercriminals have moved beyond just disruption – they are focused on stealing or siphoning off valuable data from enterprises over a long period of time, with severe consequences from a regulatory and reputational front.
Recent research from Microsoft in Ireland revealed more than a third of enterprise employers said they had pivoted rapidly to a remote setting earlier this year and are only retrofitting security, privacy and workplace procedures now. We predict that ransomware and identity-based attacks will increase in 2021.
4. Regulatory shifts will impact data management
With ongoing data transfer and privacy challenges, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) guidelines will put the onus on enterprises to do their own due diligence on data transfers. This will be a critical issue for sectors that share data across the EU and US, for example pharmaceuticals, financial services, business services and digital media.
The EPDB also issued a document describing the “essential guarantees” that must be respected in order to ensure that interference with data subjects’ privacy and data protection rights through surveillance of transferred data does not “go beyond what is necessary and proportionate in a democratic society”. This will challenge many enterprises to manage their data protection and processes in compliance.
An additional challenge is the Digital Markets Act, which will closely monitor how enterprises are sharing or allowing data to be commercially accessed. This is due to come into effect by 2024.
Brexit is also set to create opportunities for the Irish economy as evolving data protection regulations in the UK may see enterprises relocate their operations here to ensure they comply with the broader GDPR regulatory framework. This could see Ireland further become a central data hub within Europe.
5. Transformation disruption due to skills shortages
As enterprises race to digitally transform their operations and processes to capitalise on the opportunities presented by cloud computing, IT teams and CIOs are ever more challenged and stretched to keep pace and minimise any disruption.
This is creating gaps within the skills of IT teams, with McKinsey Global Institute predicting that 87pc of enterprise leaders are experiencing or expecting skill gaps in their workforce in the next few years.
Longer term, this could impact on the ability of enterprises to plan, map and optimise their transformation efforts while keeping costs in line and critical data protected in line with compliance demands.
In Ireland, the large network of technology service providers can and will continue to deliver expertise, technology solutions and facilities to enable enterprises to fully transform and compensate for internal skill gaps. Working with partners will become essential as the pressure to digitally transform services intensifies within the next few years.
By Séamus Dunne
Séamus Dunne is the managing director of Interxion Ireland. A version of this article originally appeared on the Interxion blog.