Saturday, June 22, 2024

How data should inform modern platform development

Software DevelopmentHow data should inform modern platform development

Data is often seen as the output of applications — but it’s so much more than that.

Like code itself, data is a fundamental building block of the development process. It has the ability to drive application logic, improve user experience, and increase business value.

Therefore, taking a data-first approach to software design is critical. Not only can data inform the evolution of software, but also, how that information is managed can transform organizations, accelerate timelines, and cut down on busywork. To prioritize data in a new way, organizations must be willing to overhaul long-held protocols and processes. However, the results are worth the headache.

Why Data and Database Management Needs to Change

Software development has changed a lot over the past two decades, but the use of data and database management hasn’t evolved alongside it. A 2021 Gartner survey indicated that 61% of respondents said one of their goals was to optimize data for business processes and productivity, but just 42% thought they were on track to do so. To that end, Gartner analysts predicted that by 2025, 80% of businesses looking to scale their digital business will fail because leaders weren’t willing or able to modernize their governance approach enough.

Why? In tech, we get so caught up in processes that sometimes we lose sight of the end goal. Nobody thinks holistically. We modernize everything into these different clouds, different solutions — and different silos.

As new technology emerges, the problem has only gotten worse.

Today, organizations regularly use software to differentiate themselves, which means they’re receiving more data than ever before. In addition, data sources including IoT sensors, social media, and location trackers have rendered traditional data modeling techniques all but obsolete.

But what good is all this data if nobody is able to properly interpret it all? Currently, many database administrators (DBAs) sit at the center of their organizations, and are expected to oversee hundreds, if not thousands, of databases spread out across several platforms. It’s just not possible to do this effectively.

Luckily, there’s a relatively easy solution. Automation would streamline time-consuming processes, cut down on shadow IT, and give DBAs more time to focus on higher value development work. It would also democratize access to databases, which makes it possible for developers to iterate quickly and create applications that speak directly to customers’ needs.

And given the rise of platform engineering — a practice that treats developers as the end user — now is the perfect time to implement these changes.

How to Evolve Traditional Engineering Departments

A recent study showed that in 2023, 83% of organizations reported that either they had fully executed platform engineering or were in various stages of adopting it. There are several reasons why it’s so popular but one in particular stands out: Developers have never played a bigger role in the success of many businesses.

Especially given the increasing demand for new and innovative applications, developers can’t wait for data or attempt to configure a database. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happening. McKinsey reported last year that developers were spending too much time running manual tests, managing data, and completing other “outer loop” tasks. Instead, leaders at top tech companies wanted them to focus 70% of their time on “inner-loop” activities — building, coding, and testing. To accomplish this, developers must have the freedom to consume the full tech stack in an easy, approachable way.

By further integrating data and development teams, leaders eliminate silos and give workers the opportunity to cultivate new skills — a benefit 65% of workers say is important when evaluating a new role, according to a recent Gallup survey. In this scenario, developers would learn to better interpret data, and data professionals are increasingly involved in application design discussions. Everyone works more effectively.

What to Consider When Revamping IT Processes

According to a recent survey, 46% shared that managing databases across private, public, and edge deployments was cited as one of the number one challenges associated with database management. Transforming how your IT department looks at data, databases, and development can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.

It’s important to start by thinking simply. Companies have an overwhelming amount of data, and it’s critical to rethink how that information is being processed and used. Focusing on giving developers access to that data first and foremost is the best place to start; everything else can be built over time.

Simultaneously, organizations must understand how to use and structure database management. All too often, leaders want to ignore databases because they seem dull. However, they’re integral to a business’ bottom line. They deserve attention — especially if there’s currently a monolithic, rigid database management process in place.

Most importantly, each process must be fluid. Nobody knows exactly what the future will bring; success will come to those who are able — and more importantly, willing — to evolve.

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