More companies are switching to remote workforces for the long term as the effects of COVID-19 linger. That means what was once a short-term data problem is suddenly becoming a big headache for companies. Safeguarding, transferring and storing large amounts of data so it can be parsed and accessed in a timely manner by remote employees is the new norm. Many companies, though, are finding out their data storage and security and transfer systems are not up to the task.
“People- and paper-based processes are breaking down, and it is forcing companies to hit the gas on their digital transformation projects,” Matt Yeh, senior director of product marketing for Delphix, explained to FreightWaves earlier this year. “We’re seeing an uptick in customer experience transition and cloud adoption. People see the cloud as a place where they can easily match the resources that they are expending with demand. We talk to customers and they say ‘we are in keep-the-lights-on mode right now, but we know when we emerge from this, we want to hit the gas’ on digital transformation projects.”
Using the cloud
Delphix assists companies in extracting value from their data through the acceleration of data transfer to the cloud, where it becomes more flexible and usable for both the company and its customers.
Yeh told FreightWaves that many companies have the necessary data to succeed but accessing it is problematic. He illustrated with the example of a manufacturing company Delphix is currently working with.
“They have all sorts of data that is trapped in their back-end system, and they want to do predictive analytics on it so they can get a better understanding of how much material they need and how much carrier capacity they need,” he said. “They are using Delphix to move the data to a Google Cloud platform. That is oftentimes the latest data that is in their production systems; and they can also transfer past data to help them train their machine learning algorithms.”
In freight applications, Yeh said carriers can utilize the service to gather data from customer onboarding systems, track-and-trace systems, invoicing and more and bring that together into a single cloud that makes that data accessible quickly and easily. J.B. Hunt (NASDAQ: JBHT) tapped into Delphix’s services when it was building its J.B. Hunt 360 platform. The end result has been a service that landed the logistics giant fourth place in FreightWaves’ FreightTech 25.
A case study on data usage
Data Company magazine recently spoke with J.B. Hunt on its digital transformation, and it shined a light on how the company is utilizing all its data.
“The data-powered J.B. Hunt 360 platform gives carriers a level of visibility they’ve never had before,” Stuart Scott, chief information officer and executive vice president of J.B. Hunt, told the magazine. “We know where they’re going, when they’re going to get there, and based on their usage patterns, what they’re going to look for next. We can use data science to find those opportunities and alert carriers in advance. It helps carriers operate more efficiently, which can result in new revenue and cost savings.”
Yeh told FreightWaves that it is the ability to quickly access previously siloed data that allows it to be used in this way.
“I think people are aware [speed] is an issue, but they are not aware there are solutions that can be put in place to fix things,” he said. “As different parts of IT are starting to speed up, they are realizing that data is the laggard.”
That is becoming more of an issue right now with the large numbers of employees working remotely and having to access internal company servers, which takes time and cuts into productivity.
Data speed limitations
“Typically, it can take days or weeks until you get the dataset you need to do your job, and there is a huge bucket of people involved in that [that creates a] bottleneck,” Yeh said, adding that “you have all these different sources of data value — IoT, information from your back-end systems, your drivers, carriers and shippers — that are floating around, and to tap into that data you need to get it to the data scientists.”
The remote environment is leading to another issue that Delphix has taken a number of questions on, and that is security. One of the hallmarks of Delphix’s solution is the ability to “mask” data. The masking process turns real data into usable data that does not affect or expose customer data.
“A lot of customers are in a position where employees are working from home and they are worried about securing their data,” Yeh said. “They are looking at Delphix as an insurance policy to secure data.”
A global study from consultancy Thales, released in October, found that only 32% of organizations considered security a priority when moving data to the cloud. Just 31% believed that securing the data was their responsibility. Delphix, in a blog post earlier this year, said that belief is unfounded.
The blog noted three myths surrounding data security. One is that encryption is sufficient. The fact is, Delphix said, encryption is a good start but unless the data inside the encryption is protected, the data is still at risk. The second is to lock down production data. Most companies put policies in place around production data but not around the software systems that access and use that data. The final myth is that you have to choose between speed and security.
“In a world where every company is a data company, innovation, security, and operational excellence must go hand-in-hand-in-hand, especially during the Covid-19 disruption,” the blog stated. “It’s a reliable way to mitigate and control data risk in a way that unlocks innovation while maintaining compliance and preserving customer trust.”
Yeh explained that Delphix’s approach to masking data ensures that data is protected by turning it into a data value that looks real but is not.
Ultimately, the key is to protect the data when moving it into the cloud, and make access to that data quicker, especially when it comes to development of new technologies.
“[Engineers] need data that is timely, so we shorten that path to getting that data,” Yeh said. “They also need data that is high quality. A lot of companies want to get data to certain people, but they have this huge amount of data and they can’t afford to move 20 terabytes of data and give it to someone, so they give a small slice of it [which leads to low-quality data].”
In today’s remote-operating environment, protecting data has become more important.
“If you mask your data and someone accesses it, it’s like stealing an empty purse,” he said.
As more companies are now realizing the value of using the cloud to speed data transfers and gain access to the right data quickly, Delphix is seeing an uptick in interest.
“We help enterprises move data from one place to another,” Yeh said. “We get the teams that need data access to it in a way that is very fast, efficient and compliant.”