What is the Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform?
Every business should have a basic understanding of how, what, and where their data resides, and how to protect and manage it responsibly. The right data and analytics strategy is critical to business transformation, yet only 20% of business leaders believe their organization can do it well.
They may be right. Hidden in recent allegations of security issues on Twitter, there was a hint that it might also have data governance issues: the product sales team found an interesting dataset and started to read it. ‘use to target advertisements without ever verifying where the data came from, how it was collected. or if they were supposed to have access to it.
This is exactly the kind of thing a data platform is supposed to help, but it also has to manage multiple versions of data stored in different places and in different ways, ensuring that the right people in the business get the right data to help make decisions.
“If you don’t know what data you have, then you really don’t know what your future is as a business, so you really have to deal with that,” said Sharieff Mansour, chief data officer, AI and mixed reality at Microsoft.
The way Microsoft suggests you achieve this kind of data management is with its end-to-end offering for database storage, analytics, and governance, which it calls Intelligent Data Platform.
Intelligent Data Platform Assembles Data Services
The elements that make up Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform are services you may already be using as they include all of Microsoft’s key data services, such as SQL Server 2022, Azure SQL, Cosmos DB, Azure Synapse, Microsoft Purview and more . But you’re probably not using them together as well as you could; the smart data platform is here to make it easy for you.
“These are best-in-class services on what we consider to be the three fundamental pillars of a data platform,” Mansour explained.
According to Mansour, Microsoft’s Intelligent Data Platform offers services for operational databases and data store, analytics and data governance, providing authorized users with information that will enable them to understand, manage and properly govern their company’s data.
“Historically, customers have thought about each of these areas independently of each other, and what the smart data platform does is bring all of these pieces together,” Mansour said.
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The integration of databases, analytics, and governance isn’t new either, but the point of presenting it as a platform is the focus on simplifying the experience of working with it. Mansour says the smart data platform can free up businesses to be much more productive: rather than spending time on tasks that involve bringing together disparate data for analysis, they can spend their time to meet their business needs.
Even customers who could integrate the different pieces want Microsoft to do more of that work for them, he suggested.
“What we hear from customers, time and time again, is that they go above and beyond looking for point solutions,” Mansour said. “It’s not just a database here or an upgrade from an old appliance there; they really need to take a much more holistic and cohesive approach to managing their entire data estate.
“They think about how to generate the insights they need across all the data.”
And with Mansour’s “mind-boggling” stats claiming that 68% of data is not analyzed or used in analytics, companies are looking for a solution that will help them “unlock insights that were very hard to get before”. .
Intelligent Data Platform Provides Business Flexibility, Not Just Cloud
Just because it’s called a platform doesn’t mean it’s all about cloud computing. According to Mansour, almost every organization expects the cloud to play a big role in how they store data in the future, but the smart data platform isn’t just about moving data to the cloud. It’s a matter of flexibility.
“It’s not just about moving to the cloud, it’s about managing your data wherever it lives,” Mansour said. “We offer Azure SQL Edge, so you can also manage your data in edge environments, with the same consistent platform.
Additionally, Synapse Link is one of the new features in SQL Server 2022, and it’s a key part of the new data platform that started in the cloud.—first in Azure Cosmos DB, then in Dataverse for Dynamics and Power Platform.
By integrating Synapse Link into its services, Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform is poised to connect operational data stores and analytical data sources, which have traditionally been separated. As a result, Mansour says businesses are able to gain more meaningful insights and analyze data “within seconds of registering a transaction in your live store.”
“No one is offering this kind of functionality in the market today,” Mansour said. “Because all of these services are first-party offerings, we have the ability to provide this deep integration and enable this information without impacting operational systems.—because obviously you don’t want to affect that. Because we have such a comprehensive data platform, we are able to inform these new experiences. »
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However, before this information can be useful, companies need to know what data they need to analyze and who needs to see it, which can be difficult for organizations with large amounts of data. But with Microsoft Purview as part of the Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform, companies will be able to “identify what data you have, and that’s the first step of the journey,” Mansour said.
In addition to managing who has access, you can also start thinking about the origin and destination of data.
While traditional data marts are still useful, many organizations are looking for more flexible and agile analytics options, like Power BI, which has a new Data Marts feature to make it easier for users to get insights. from the data without the need for IT to configure things. for them.
“It’s not about providing this information to a select few who reside in one corner of the organization; it’s about giving everyone in your organization the important information and the ability to make decisions much faster and faster,” Mansour said.
Power BI has hundreds of connectors to import data for analysis, but the Intelligent Data Platform can do more of that work for you.
“We are building intelligence into the platform to proactively highlight the sources of data that customers would need,” Mansour said. “They can search or we can recommend data sources based on the types of queries and the types of data they are looking at and the information they are looking for.”
Bigger is better: Intelligent data platform benefits companies with large databases
The intelligent data platform will be useful to any organization, but according to Mansour, “companies that have large data estates spanning multiple environments would benefit even more. With features like Microsoft Purview and Synapse Link and the ability to provide management functionality in multiple environments, the more you use the platform, the more you benefit.
FedEx, for example, uses the platform for business transformation, using both traditional data sources and newer approaches such as sensors and IoT.
“They’re using it today to scan millions of packages a day, billions of transactions. They’ve developed their own machine learning models to provide really deep contextual insights,” Mansour said. further and have established what they call the Intelligent Edge, collecting massive amounts of IoT (Internet of Things) data from autonomous devices and systems to provide even more insights.
“They use it to gain much deeper insights, the ability to better manage their shipment movements, take corrective action in minutes, and manage their data wherever it resides. For them, it’s about accessing the next level of information beyond traditional data warehousing, to really bring a lot more signals into their business so they can be a lot more agile and better respond to their clients.
Even if you don’t need to build a system as powerful as someone like FedEx, the Intelligent Data Platform can make it easier to uncover opportunities that might be hidden in the data you already collect.
“It’s about understanding the data you have, managing it properly, and getting the information you need, when you need it,” Mansour explained. “If there’s anything we’ve learned over the past two years, it’s that for businesses to survive and thrive in today’s environment, you need to put data at the heart of everything. you do, and the companies that have done that have been much more successful.”