Living in a Data Jungle: The Genesis of Data-First Businesses

The world is teeming with data. But how do you turn data into something insightful and useful? The answer: data pipelines.

By Sara Downey, Thought Leadership, Dell Technologies

The world is teeming with data. Humans and machines will generate more raw, untamed data than we can ever hope to manage on our own. So how do you turn data into something insightful and useful? The answer: data pipelines.

We can date a tree by studying the rings in the tree trunk. With rings that are hundreds or thousands of years old, scientists can chronicle the impact of climate change on nature well before modern weather instruments were invented. The science of dating trees (dendrochronology) reminds us that data, once unearthed, can answer many of our pressing questions.

Unlocking the Wild World of Data

Today, an immense amount of work is underway to sequence and learn from some of this data. The collective effort to map the human genome, an instruction manual for our body, is a case in point. The human genome is made up of 23 chromosome pairs with a total of about three billion DNA base pairs. Sequencing the human genome is a mammoth undertaking, and yet the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) has already harnessed a huge amount of compute to analyze 200 billion genome data points per patient. But even that’s a mere slither of the expanse of data in play.

All organisms in nature have genomes. Many sequenced plant genomes are known to be larger than humans. This means that with each exploration, we have a unique opportunity to learn more about our world, including plants’ medicinal benefits, such as their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties.

A team of scientists from Brock University and the University of British Columbia, Canada, experienced this first-hand when they sequenced the genome of English lavender. When building the roadmap for unveiling the genetic elements of lavender, the researchers not only discovered genes that direct essential oil production, they also laid out the fundamentals of how the genome works as a whole. They achieved far more than they would have done without a rich bank of data, and exponential technology at their fingertips.

These examples remind us that it’s an exciting time to work in science — as it is in any sphere, both public and private. The world is brimming with unseen data, and with modern data pipelines, it’s never been easier to peel back the layers and peek inside.

Traversing the Data Pipeline

Data is the cornerstone of any organization competing in the digital era. Connected businesses are collecting data across multiple sources and taking it on a journey of discovery, from outlier positions in single applications to the very heart of the business.

Their mode of transport might be data pipelines, but these pipelines aren’t just conduits—they’re also control systems, directing the data’s movement from one system to another, along a dynamic networked fabric (5G), orchestrated in a multi-cloud environment. And they’re doing it quickly to deliver insights in real-time.

As in nature, the data pipeline creates a carefully balanced ecosystem. As the data moves, it’s acted on by machine intelligence—to make sense of the data and generate insights at speed—as well as augmented and extended realities, which provide immersive ways of interacting with, visualizing, and interpreting data. In the process, the data is changed and potentially made less secure Consequentially, security is woven into the pipelines so the data can be trusted and used.

Also, as in nature, there is no limit to the breadth and volume of the data. The more businesses delve, the more they realize what little they know. The potential is staggering. In this connected ecosystem, they’re experiencing what it means to live in a computer age with infinite edges, where data is being captured from every decision or action that is being taken: between people, between people and machines, and between machines. Soon zettabytes of data will be traversing these pipelines, transforming data from raw and unstructured states to something that we can grapple with, refine, and learn from.

In the process, businesses will make meaningful discoveries that could help them to prepare for different eventualities. So when the seasons do change, and challenges arise, they can still grow and thrive.

The Genesis of Data-First Businesses

We’re living in a data jungle, but with an ecosystem of emerging technologies acting in concert within a data pipeline, organizations have never been better equipped to identify where resources are being wasted, find mechanisms to drive greater efficiencies and develop sources of new revenue—even new business models based on trusted market data.

In our video, data is like the sap in the tree. In the built world, it’s the lifeblood of a digital business.