When the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab first coined the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in 2016, he described it as a revolution “characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital, and biological worlds; impacting all disciplines, economies, and industries; and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.”

Behind those big claims is big data. Next-generation technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing couldn’t run without it—and thankfully, there’s no shortage of data to keep them well fed. The world already produces 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. Much of it is raw and unorganized like sensor data from the rapidly growing Internet of Things (IoT). And it’s just sitting there, waiting to be analyzed.

The superhero here is modern analytics—the key to unlocking critical insights that make this data actionable and, thus, more valuable. These insights can help businesses increase operational efficiency, reduce costs and risks, create new customer experiences, bring new products and services to market, and much more.

To deliver that value, modern analytics applications need to efficiently process vast amounts of structured and unstructured data, including machine data like log analytics and data from an array of business applications. Some even process data to get better at processing data with AI and machine learning models that self-improve and deliver insights in real time.

Besides an insatiable appetite for data, what all modern data analytics applications also have in common is the need for high-performing and unified storage. Unified fast file and object storage understands that modern data requires multi-protocol and multi-dimensional access with architecture that can deliver performance regardless of the kind of data. Companies missing that critical element in their IT infrastructure are likely already falling behind in the 4IR. 

Besides an insatiable appetite for data, what all modern data analytics applications also have in common is the need for high-performing and flexible storage.

An Overlooked Obstacle to 4IR Progress

The ultra-deep level of digital connectivity and convergence the 4IR is expected to deliver has yet to be widely realized. Still, forward-thinking businesses are investing heavily in 4IR technologies to get there faster. Since 2012, companies have poured more than $646 billion into 4IR technology investments, according to research by PwC. And of course, those investments have included modern analytics solutions. 

But no matter how focused they are on shaping their place in a 4IR future, too many organizations are standing in the way of their own progress by ignoring a key step: implementing high-performing, cloud-native storage. Storage infrastructure that can support modern applications is a necessary foundation for 4IR because it’s built for the demands of automation and new sources of data, like intelligent sensors.

Without modern storage, it’s complex and time-consuming to attempt adapting to modern cloud architectures and scale for multiple workloads and variable data patterns. This can ultimately diminish ROI on your most valuable asset—your data—and cripple investments in cloud capabilities that are so critical to 4IR technologies. You also risk constraining your ability to perform complex analytics or use data from IoT edge devices.

The companies that have also invested in IT infrastructure updates are the most well-positioned to realize significant bottom-line benefits from advanced analytics investments. A joint study by Pure Storage® and Enterprise Strategy Group outlines some of the benefits.

For a specific example, look to digital media and online publishing company TownNews. It manages tens of billions of small files — essentially, every article, image and video its customers publish plus a century’s worth of archived information. Its AI-driven search algorithm retrieves archived content for local media outlets based on the latest news. It also taps the data for valuable insights, including behavioral analytics and audience segmentation.

TownNews struggled to keep up with its growing data stores. After migrating to Pure FlashBlade® Unified Fast File and Object Storage, a move that took only about 30 days, TownNews saw read-write performance go from just under 10 seconds to under three seconds. Reporting is exponentially faster now, too, and IT management is greatly simplified.

2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Primary Storage Arrays

A New Sense of Urgency to Digitally Transform

The risk of losing ground in the emerging 4IR could be even greater now for some businesses in the current environment. What many may have categorized as “trends of tomorrow” a matter of months ago have become, almost overnight, must-have tools for navigating the current environment. For example, businesses need to automate and embrace—finally or more fully—4IR technologies like cloud computing, AI, the IoT, and high-speed connectivity to support remote work. 

In all of this, modern data analytics applications provide much-needed insights and accuracy for digital transformation. They also inform data-driven decision-making, providing reassurance and a comforting glimpse ahead in uncertain times. 

Modern data storage isn’t the only thing that can get businesses ahead in the 4IR, but it’s a critical step—and positive outcomes won’t be far behind. 

And yet, without the right foundational IT infrastructure, structured and unstructured data stays locked away, out of reach in legacy silos, warehouses, and data lakes. No doubt, that’s a source of great consternation for the 80% of executives who believe their companies are in a race with competitors to extract value from data.

Modern data storage isn’t the only thing that can get businesses ahead in the 4IR, but it’s a critical step—and positive outcomes won’t be far behind. Organizations already at a high level of analytics maturity are outperforming their competitors on customer satisfaction and shortening the time to market for new products.

A common theme among analytically mature organizations? Modern IT infrastructure foundations that include high-performing unified fast file and object flash storage solutions like Pure Storage FlashBlade.

An Opportunity to Build Business Resilience

“Splunk on Pure helped us stay productive during the COVID-19 crisis by giving us the speed to collect and analyze data remotely.” -Neha Mehra, Sr. IT Applications Specialist, Infrastructure and Cloud Services, Veritas

If businesses need even more incentive, consider how future-proofing critical IT infrastructure elements can also enhance overall business resilience. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) asserts that many organizations were struggling to keep pace with technological change before COVID-19, which is testing companies’ resilience like never before. And BCG reports that now, as businesses seek to improve their resilience so that they can weather future disruptive events better, many are “expanding and strengthening data and digital platforms and doubling down on automation.”

As they make these changes, companies will want to avoid self-made obstacles—technological or otherwise—that could impede their progress. For example, according to McKinsey, “hefty cultural and organizational hurdles” slowed the adoption of analytics and AI in many businesses before the pandemic.

For businesses that want to transform digitally, extract more value from their data, build resilience, and accelerate their journey into the 4IR, know this: Storage is a critical enabler for enterprise-scale modern analytics. That fact remains constant amid all this disruption and change. Another fact: A business that lacks modern storage will be as constrained as the data and insights it is unable to reach with the tools it cannot support.

Pure Storage has partnered with Splunk, Elastic, and Vertica to deliver a Modern Data Experience™ with modern analytics. Learn more about our solutions for modern analytics.

A business that lacks modern storage will be as constrained as the data and insights it is unable to reach with the tools it is unable to support.