Data Management Key to Success in the Age of AI, says Seagate’s BS Teh

Data Management Key to Success in the Age of AI, says Seagate’s BS Teh

Wednesday December 05, 2018,

8 min Read

Most organisations in India believe that artificial intelligence (AI) applications will drive productivity and business performance of their organisations, according to the Data Pulse: Maximising the Potential of AI survey by global data and storage leader Seagate Technology. In a conversation with YourStory, B.S. Teh, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Sales Operations at Seagate talks about how businesses’ ability to manage data is the key to success in capitalising on the AI opportunity.

With the onset of AI and Industry 4.0, data is the new oil. However, companies struggle to manage their data. Why?

Today, data is critical to all aspects of human life and is now the lifeblood of our rapidly growing digital existence. The growth of data in the past few decades is remarkable for its volume and criticality, and it will only grow further in the years to come. According to IDC’s “Digitization of the World – From Edge to Core” report commissioned by Seagate, the global Datasphere will grow from 23 Zettabytes in 2017 to 175 Zettabytes by 2025.

Insights from this data deluge can bring myriad opportunities for businesses across industries to gain competitive advantage. Lucrative as this may be, in order to reap the benefits of this growing Datasphere and draw actionable insights, organisations must first learn how to store and manage data effectively. Data must be archived and stored in ways that provide appropriate levels of performance and enable analytics and intelligence to be applied to them. Concurrently, it must be done in a cost-effective and secure manner. This is not necessarily an easy task given that some industries still have data in silos within the corporate walls, as well as externally, residing in locations where the data is not generally accessible, such as branch offices, contractor sites or other remote business locations. Businesses are also faced by roadblocks around IT infrastructure, budget, commitment from the leadership team, and talent while rolling out a successful data management strategy.

To capitalise on the data opportunity, organisations must begin by establishing a data-driven culture. What is required next is a consistent data management strategy that ensures effective storage while maintaining data integrity and security. This strategy should then be accompanied by robust data storage infrastructure that ensures capacity, performance, reliability, and scalability.

What advice do you have for enterprises planning to implement AI solutions? What do they need to look for?

AI is no longer just a buzzword. It is a technology that organisations of all sizes and industry are increasingly implementing. The Seagate research, Data Pulse: Maximising the Potential of AI found that almost all Indian respondents plan to use or adopt more AI solutions in the next 12 months. It is clear that today AI is a building block for modern software and applications, finding use in a wide variety of industries.

Data is the lifeblood behind AI applications. Rising AI adoption will lead to increase in data volumes, so for enterprises that are now embarking on their journey to AI implementation, a solid IT and data infrastructure is integral to success. However, organisations need to catch up – although they have existing data management infrastructure, the survey found that 98% of Indian organisations believe further investments in IT infrastructure are much needed.

Organisations must begin by investing in a data infrastructure that is agile, scalable and secure. It must have a sufficient processing power to manage large and varying volumes and types of data efficiently. As organisations progress from beginners to experimenters to frontrunners in their AI journey, their growing familiarity with AI will help them realize gains in productivity and performance. At a time when India is ramping up its productivity and growth, AI promises to help bridge the gap, and catapult the country into becoming a truly digital economy.

Security remains a challenge for organisations looking to leverage AI. How do they address this concern?

By 2025 almost 90% of all data created in the global Datasphere will require some level of security, but less than half will be secured, according to the Seagate-sponsored IDC whitepaper Data Age 2025. Nearly 20% of all data will be critical to our lives, of which 10% will be hypercritical. This criticality also means that data security must be the entire organisation’s responsibility, and not just the concern of IT and security professionals.

Yet, while businesses seem to agree in the importance of data security, there is still a gap. More than 1 in 10 organisations still do not update and review their data security strategy regularly, according to our Data Pulse survey. In the age of AI, data is power. It’s clear that organisations must pay more attention to data security as the implementation of AI technology grows to ensure safe and seamless flow of information and data.

It is paramount for companies to look at security more comprehensively, beyond software walls and intrusion detections. Instead of looking at data security from a tactical and operational standpoint, it should be viewed as a strategic imperative. From an IT infrastructure standpoint, where data is stored and how the encryption, access and disposal of the data is managed is very critical. A solid data infrastructure will be a strong foundation for any organisation’s AI journey, not just to handle the exponential growth in data volumes, but also ensure data is always protected from unauthorised access.

What are some of the ways in which Seagate can help these organisations reap the benefits of AI?

We have already established that the rapid expansion and adoption of new age technologies such as predictive analytics, machine learning and AI technologies will only increase global data volumes. We will see the stepping up of the frequency, flexibility, and immediacy of data management and analysis across industries and applications to drive strategic decisions and actions among organizations.

As a data solutions provider and a leading storage company, our objective is to enable companies to become more competitive in this age of data, to help them maximize the use of their data amid the proliferation of AI technologies. Data is our lifeblood, and with our 40 years of expertise we are well-positioned to guide the industry transition towards the future ecosystem enabled by AI where data plays a fundamentally critical role.

Seagate is working on solutions based on a highly-scalable data collection system, combined with an automated analytics engine using state-of the-art big data techniques. This helps businesses deal with some very large, frequently noisy and often unstructured data sets.

What is your take on AI as an opportunity in India and how the market is shaping?

According to the Data Pulse survey, 99% of Indian respondents are ready to leverage the benefits AI brings across business sectors, despite any implementation barriers they may face. According to the findings, many organisations here in India have already implemented AI in several areas, such as IT (83%), customer support (46%), product innovation and R&D (42%) and supply chain and logistics (38%), paving the way for AI to transform the way businesses function in India across varied industries. The scope of AI is growing in the most influential sectors in India, including manufacturing, financial services, agriculture, and defence.

India’s healthcare industry has embraced AI, recognizing its significant value in better diagnostics with data intelligence. For example, NIRAMAI is among the leading start-ups using AI technology to fight cancer, by providing pain-free, non-invasive breast cancer screenings and using machine learning and big data analytics. The core technology of their solution is a data-led AI diagnostic platform that uses patented thermal image processing and machine learning algorithms for reliable and accurate breast cancer screening. Another interesting example is CRON Systems, a disruptive startup in the border defense space. The company is developing state-of-the-art Intrusion Detection Systems that leverage AI to create a complete situational awareness platform around any border or perimeter, and provide real time actionable intelligence to security forces to better protect the border.

With Indian organisations rapidly implementing AI in their business, we see a huge opportunity for solutions that enable organisations to successfully reap the technology’s benefits. There is a clear need for organisations to strengthen their underlying data infrastructure in order to maximize the potential of AI and enhance productivity and performance.

Talent remains a key concern for Indian organisations looking to implement AI on a large scale. What are your thoughts?

For companies, maximizing the AI opportunity lies in training employees and attracting the right talent. Our Data Pulse survey corroborates the need to bridge the AI talent gap. 97% of Indian organisations believe they could do more if they had the right AI talent, and more than three-quarters indicated that it’s difficult for them to find the right talent.

While academia plays an important role in revamping the curriculum as well as opening new colleges specifically dedicated to higher studies in these emerging technologies, the private sector should also contribute by reskilling and upskilling existing talent through this digital transformation.

Organisations must demonstrate an inclination to nurture the next generation of data specialists – management trainee programmes and internships are highly effective tools to build the organisation’s talent pipeline while bringing in diverse perspectives to approach challenges in new ways.