By Chet Kapoor, Chairman and CEO of DataStax\nToday, we are in the final, and most important, phase of digital transformation. The first phase started with \u201cmobile\u201d. The second was focused on cloud computing. And today it\u2019s all about data.\nData is at the heart of how enterprises create value for their customers, and you cannot win without it. But yesterday\u2019s enterprise data architecture can\u2019t meet today\u2019s need for scale and agility.\nEnterprises and developers are faced with 3 problems:\n\nThe need for speed. Disruptors are everywhere, and users are demanding data to make decisions in real-time.\nData is spread across several platforms. These real-time silos make it hard for developers to be agile, and they prevent enterprises from getting the big picture about their customers.\nEnterprises are still maintaining legacy systems. These are expensive and they make it hard to optimize for scale.\n\nWhat if you could simplify these environments to unlock the power of your data across the enterprise? The answer is standardization. It\u2019s about putting data into a consistent format that allows you to use it in real-time and create value for your customers. Our perspective at DataStax is that a successful standardization comes down to two things: technology and people\/process.\nThe \u201ceasy\u201d \u2013 technology\nStandardizing your technology is a lot of work. But as the software gets more complex, it is also getting easier to manage and use with things like SaaS models and serverless. Here are some of the key tech components that will help with data standardization.\nKubernetes\nContainerization in the cloud and on-premises enables developers to decouple and automate compute and storage. For data platforms with complicated setups\u2014like those needed to retain data from one app to another or for backup-and-recovery requirements\u2014Kubernetes and Kubernetes-based tool capabilities are crucial.\nData APIs\nData APIs simplify integrations between disparate tools and platforms by protecting data teams from the complexity of the different layers. This speeds time to market and reduces the chance of causing new problems in existing apps. APIs and API platforms, like Stargate, enable more innovation and freedom of choice for developers.\nServerless \nServerless databases enable enterprises to build and operate data-centric apps with infinite scale. They also lower the expertise required to build because developers don\u2019t need to configure solutions or manage workloads. As a result, serverless speeds up deployment from weeks to minutes (seriously!) and lowers TCO substantially.\nOpen source software (OSS)\nMany tech leaders think about OSS as a means to an end versus an end itself. But to scale apps, you have to push beyond the boundaries of legacy data ecosystems and proprietary technologies. You need a data architecture with open-source components that can be replaced with new tech as needed.\nOSS\u2014like Apache Cassandra\u00ae, the highly scalable, NoSQL-standard database behind some of the world\u2019s most-recognized brands, and Apache Pulsar, the distributed messaging and streaming platform\u2014enables collaboration, grows adoption with open code, and improves reliability as more users and contributors participate. Most importantly, OSS fuels technical and business innovation.\nThe hard \u2013 people and process\nOf course, you need the right tech stack. But the CIOs I\u2019ve spoken with all agree that the hard part is leading and inspiring people through change. Here are some impactful steps you can take.\n Create a data culture\nIt starts by creating a data culture. You can\u2019t buy this; you have to build it. It\u2019s crucial to use data everywhere. Decision-making\u2014at all levels of the company\u2014should be data-driven. At DataStax, we even use a data-driven approach for onboarding new hires.\nAnother important step in building a data culture is to stop investing in legacy applications, which are based on legacy processes. Every time you think about a legacy process, think about the opportunity cost. If you had one dollar and you couldn\u2019t break it, would you spend it on investing in a legacy process? Or would you come up with something completely new\u2014something that enables people to do their jobs more efficiently and focus on innovation?\n Adopt an iterative mindset\nEverybody thinks of iteration as an IT thing, but business leaders need to have an iterative mindset, too. Apply an agile approach to data architecture and don\u2019t be afraid to experiment with different concepts. It\u2019s okay to fail and iterate quickly.\nEstablish cross-functional data squads or pods\nMany of us have made the mistake of shipping our organizational charts to our customers. But customers don\u2019t care about how we\u2019re organized. They care about value. It\u2019s not about the function you\u2019re in. It\u2019s about the impact you create.\nBuild \u201cpods\u201d of business folks, data architects, engineers, and app developers. And give them end-to-end accountability for building the data architecture. Focus on collaboration and aligning people on the same goals. This will help you break silos and find the right data that drives business outcomes.\nInvest in an enterprise-wide DataOps initiative\nDeliver a central data platform that uses machine learning to enable self-serve analytics. This will create scalable, repeatable, and predictable data flows.\nNote that the cycle time of the two layers\u2014data pods and data platforms\u2014are and should continue to be different. The interface is an API. Pods will move fast and innovate like crazy. Both are enterprise-wide initiatives but work at very different velocities.\n Bringing together the easy and the hard\nAt the end of the day, it\u2019s all about our people. Team composition is important with a strong focus on diversity and inclusion. Hire people who are mission-oriented, bring a different perspective, and take an outside-in point-of-view. And invest in reskilling your team \u2013 a recent survey found that 53% of people in an enterprise need to be reskilled.\nAs you approach the last mile of your digital transformation, consider the technology pieces and people\/process changes. An effective data standardization strategy will help you uncover valuable insights, drive revenue growth, and achieve true business agility\u2014ultimately creating value for your customers.\nTo learn more about data standardization, visit us here.\n\nAbout Chet Kapoor:\n\nChet is Chairman and CEO of DataStax. He is a proven leader and innovator in the tech industry with more than 20 years in leadership at innovative software and cloud companies, including Google, IBM, BEA Systems, WebMethods, and NeXT. As Chairman and CEO of Apigee, he led company-wide initiatives to build Apigee into a leading technology provider for digital business. Google (Apigee) is the cross-cloud API management platform that operates in a multi- and hybrid-cloud world. Chet successfully took Apigee public before the company was acquired by Google in 2016. Chet earned his B.S. in engineering from Arizona State University.