“New Age decision makers need to become data visionaries”, states Rick Scurfield President, NetApp

In an interview with BW CIO, Rick Scurfield, President, NetApp APAC talks to us about the need for CIO’s to become data visionaries, the shift to cloud and how ‘agility’ is one of the key challenges faced in the IT industry.

As per recent reports, 67% of CEOs in the Global 2000 are putting digital transformation at the centre of their growth and profitability strategies and NetApp has been constantly innovating to help customers undergo this digital transformation. The company’s aim is to help transform CIO to data visionaries and empower them to unleash the power of data to achieve a new competitive advantage.

In an interview with BW CIO, Rick Scurfield, President, NetApp APAC talks to us about the need for CIO’s to become data visionaries, the shift to cloud and how ‘agility’ is one of the key challenges faced in the IT industry. 

What advice would you give to organizations who might be hesitant to move to the cloud due to security concerns?

Security can be taken care of at multiple levels in cloud and is increasingly of a lesser concern than it was a few years back, as cloud providers have improved their ability to minimize breaches. Additionally, there are multiple SLA’s which work on mitigating security concerns. Notwithstanding that, it is entirely on the organization to decide which part of their workloads do they want to move to cloud and security not be the only focus of the decision making process. 

The CISOs and CIOs need to prioritize and plan for data encryption and security practice at the data management layer itself. They need to make sure that the company’s backup, restore and archival strategies have quick turn-around and instant recovery, prepared for any disaster be it cyberattack or otherwise. For instance, implementing a storage system with comprehensive APIs and protection capabilities with long term recovery options that perfectly compliment the application or data environment of any organization, can protect them.

Could you shed some light on changing customer requirements with IoT, robotics and drone technology?

As per an IDC report, data will become life critical by 2025; IoT will play a large role in driving this transformation with more than 95% of real time data generated from IoT. This would require fast, secure and cost effective data management strategy with actionable recommendations based on in-depth analysis of any company’s current environment, organization, and processes. In order to prepare for this data explosion, enterprises are already shifting direction away from basic IaaS and low-cost, self-service, hourly-billed cloud infrastructure to higher touch, higher value  managed hosting offerings. They have to adapt their business models to support this rapid pace of change, as those who are not agile enough to do so simply won’t survive the transition.

Other advancements in robotics and drone technology will enable our customer to easily and intelligently connect with their audience and make work easy and efficient. They will form a part of external sources that can received and translate data into actions. 

Discuss with us the need for CIOs to become data visionaries.

We have seen a profound shift in how organizations and individuals are making business decisions. Many are moving away from traditional decision making to data backed decisions. The early adopters who took a data-centric approach witnessed a radical change in their businesses. What made this possible for them? They collected the right kind of data. They knew what to do with data and how to use it to help grow their business. They were data visionaries who foresaw what data’s potential was. 

Therefore, those who master the art of data management are the ones who will essentially drive perhaps the most significant competitive advantage in their organisation vs. their competition. Since, data has become the lifeblood of any business and determines their success or failure. Leaders with the ability to manage data across siloes have a much better chance of surviving as compared to ones who continue to operate in legacy fashion.

New Age decision makers need to become data visionaries –know what data is to be collected, how should it be stored and managed and how to make business sense from it. Being data visionaries is the only way forward for them to evolve successfully. 

Talk to us about NetApp’s overall software defined strategy - transformation from a successful data storage company to a full-fledged data management company.

Historically, NetApp was always a software defined company, we just never promoted it as an SDS solution. We architected our solutions such that we isolated out how we access solutions or put information on or off the disk. Now, from our perspective, it’s really just a matter of how you add APIs, protocols or different features into your software stack. There are many companies that talk about SDS but we have enjoyed a leadership position in the enterprise storage market, largely thanks to our evolving software defined strategy aligned with changing market dynamics and customer expectations. As more customers adopt cloud capabilities as part of their digital transformation, the need for managing data across traditional IT and multiple cloud solutions becomes critical. With such innovations, NetApp, as the data authority for hybrid cloud is helping enterprises transform all their data into a shared asset that will power their businesses.

 What according to you are the global trends for 2018?

As data continues to become even more distributed, dynamic and diverse, everything from IT infrastructures to application architectures to provisioning strategies will have to change in response to the new realities. We see data becoming more self-aware which means the metadata will make it possible for the data to proactively transport, categorize, analyze and protect itself. The big data will evolve to be huge data and consequentially will drive demand for newer storage solutions and architectures. More decentralized, immutable mechanisms for managing data will emerge. Technologies like blockchain will challenge the traditional sense of data protection and management. NetApp understands that in future, businesses will demand not technology but better ways to deal with internal and external data. 

 What is the biggest challenge in your profession?

The IT industry is changing more rapidly today than at any point in history, and the pace of change is only going to increase going forward. This puts an incredible pressure on companies to continue to innovate both their products and their business models. In addition, the ability to attract and retain talent is more difficult than ever before, as the successful employee needs to be one that thrives in a dynamic environment. This puts pressure on companies to transform their Human Resources models and places even more pressure on leadership. Companies need to continually motivate all levels of employees to ensure they are fully engaged, and the classic motivation levers are, in many cases, not the ones that are relevant today. In summary, the word “agility” comes to mind as the biggest challenge, as it is something that is required in all parts of a company to keep up with and to lead in the IT industry today.

- Nivedhana Prabhu 

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