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SaaS Application Data: Your New Competitive Weapon in 2021

While “learn from your mistakes” and “history repeats itself” are common sayings many people try to live by in their personal lives, they quickly become intractable in business. It’s no wonder only 20% of our analytical ‘insights’ have any actual business impact. We’re data rich, but value poor — and truthfully it’s not our fault. We simply haven’t been able to fully tap one of the most valuable sources of structured, converged, historical trend data sitting right under our noses: our cloud applications.

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According to a 2018 Gartner survey about SaaS migration, 97% of respondents said their organization had already deployed at least one SaaS application. If you’re like that overwhelming majority, you likely use some form of cloud application to either inform business decisions or directly take business action. From CRM to customer support, BI, marketing automation, revenue acceleration and a plethora of other tools, cloud applications are critical to helping us optimize and grow our businesses day in and day out. Data stored in those applications is a rich historical summary of everything that has happened in our organization, and a great predictor of what will likely happen next.

The problem? We haven’t been able to reach deep into those applications in order to fully tap the power of our data stored in them — until now.

SaaS Application Data Ownership & Access

In 2020, organizations expanded their desire to re-use their cloud application data across the enterprise, raising the value and need for cloud data warehouses and other data consumption technologies.

In 2021, this trend will continue – with some organizations going as far as wanting to capture changes in SaaS application data over time for a broad array of use cases, ranging from historical trend analysis to compliance and machine learning. This will be driven by the realization that while cloud applications may tell us in their terms of service that we “own our data” stored in their cloud, getting more than 20% business value out of that data requires us to fully replicate the data out of the application, as opposed to accessing it via limited APIs or data integrations.

In essence, it requires us to take full ownership and control of at least a replica of our cloud application data so that we can unleash the flexibility of what we can do with our data.

Cloud Application Data Backup: From Cost Center to Revenue Driver

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Replicating SaaS application data manually creates fragility, compliance exposure and technical debt for IT and development teams. In 2021, more organizations are going to find the cheat code of using an old tool in a new way: cloud data backup.

Taking regular snapshots of cloud application data and replicating them to an organization’s data lake creates a stable organization-wide consumption point for historical SaaS data. One where multiple teams can come together and tap into whatever subsets of an application’s dataset they may need to do their jobs.

Organizations will expand their use of SaaS backup tools beyond simply using them as ‘insurance policies’ for business continuity (“if something goes wrong I can recover my application data”), to new data re-use scenarios across compliance, security, customer service and revenue growth.

“Backup data,” or more accurately, “historical change data coming out of hyper-converged cloud applications” like, will become the new frontier for “learning from our past” and, ultimately, for driving future competitive advantage.

SaaS Change Data: the Ultimate AI/ML Training Set

In 2021, organizations with a focus on artificial intelligence or machine learning will continue to hunger for meaningful time-series training datasets that can be fed into their ML algorithms to spot cause-and-effect change patterns over time. They will turn to their ever-changing datasets in 3rd party cloud/SaaS applications as inputs into these algorithms. This will create pressure for them to capture and ingest every single change in that data over time into their DataOps ecosystem. Longer-term, this will further position SaaS application data as a key strategic advantage for organizations wanting to analyze and outmaneuver their competitors by learning from their past. 

Elephant in the Room: SaaS Data Compliance

2021 will mark continued increase in regulatory compliance pressures around security, data privacy and data governance. Organizations will continue to try to bring their SaaS application data under their governance and security umbrellas, initially by creating replicas of the data in their own data lakes. Eventually, this will lead to more cloud application providers allowing customers to deploy instances of the cloud application on the customer’s cloud environments. This has already started with major announcements such as Hyperforce by

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