Data as a Service and the Analytics Hierarchy of Needs

by   |   June 25, 2015 5:30 am   |   1 Comments

Rajiv Taori, left, and Bill Carovano

Rajiv Taori, left, and Bill Carovano

The evolution of Data as a Service (DaaS) is entering a new phase. Having addressed foundational capabilities like any-device sync and secure data mobility, organizations soon will turn to more strategic needs – not only storing, accessing and sharing data, but also helping users discover the right data for their needs and use it to drive insight. It’s in this next generation of DaaS that we will see the full business value of data unleashed.

The first two waves of DaaS focused on helping users access and use data more easily to support productivity. First, the convergence of cloud computing and proliferating computing devices led to the introduction of cloud data storage, allowing users to access their information anywhere, on any device. Next, the rise of bring your own device (BYOD) created the need for secure mobility in order to protect enterprise data on personally owned endpoints. In each case, DaaS has made it possible for users to work with data in more scenarios without being constrained by device or location. However, it hasn’t necessarily empowered them with entirely new capabilities. Now that data can be available anywhere, we can focus on helping users do more with it.

The need for a more transformative approach to DaaS is easy enough to understand. IDC and EMC project that data will grow to 40 zettabytes by 2020, a 50-fold increase from the beginning of 2010. Making it easier for users to access this data is only part of the picture. As the data haystack grows, users will need more help to find the needles within it that matter most for their business. This is especially true given the rising proportion of unstructured data in enterprise and third-party stores. We will need ways to provide uniform access, manage data of all types, and facilitate the processes and workflows that turn raw data into actionable information.

One way to think about the evolution of DaaS is in terms of the needs it addresses. In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow introduced his theory of the Hierarchy of Needs, in which users seek to address fundamental physiological needs first and then progress upward through higher-level needs for safety, then love, esteem, and, finally, self-actualization.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Click to enlarge.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Click to enlarge.


We can imagine a similar hierarchy of needs for data – beginning with data creation, storage and access on foundational levels and aspiring to discovery and insight as the highest-order needs.

Hierarchy of data needs. Click to enlarge.

Hierarchy of data needs. Click to enlarge.


This model maps naturally to the evolution of DaaS up to this point and provides a way to think about what’s coming next. As we work our way up the hierarchy, each level enables the one above, expanding the resulting value.


The value of data begins with its creation, of course. On the most basic level, users need to be able to create and edit content easily in any scenario, whether on a desktop, laptop or mobile device, in any location. Capabilities associated with this level include mobile content creation and editing tools for any device.


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The data that users utilize is typically stored in diverse repositories, from their local hard drive, a Microsoft SharePoint content repository or a file share on the corporate network to a consumer cloud storage service such as Google Drive or Dropbox. Often, this fragmentation is driven by necessity. Some data might have to be stored on premise to satisfy regulatory requirements, while other data might reside in a public cloud for cost efficiency. Work in progress might be kept in a shared folder or cloud service for the sake of expediency, while aging content might be archived off site. The organization must be able to satisfy the storage requirements of each type of data, and of the users who use it.


The siloed landscape described above can make it difficult for users to find what they need. This leads to another key focus of DaaS to date: to aggregate users’ separate data silos into a unified environment where they can transparently and securely access the data they are authorized to use, regardless of where it resides.

Sharing and Workflow

With a foundation of data creation, storage, and access in place, DaaS can enable higher-value capabilities to help users work more effectively with data. At this level of the hierarchy, while users can share links to stored files with team members and clients, the DaaS platform can break down barriers between systems so users can work with data where it resides, such as annotating or applying an electronic signature to a document without having to pull it out of the network folder or cloud storage account where it lives. We believe simple file sharing will extend into document workflow (as the example above illustrates), forms workflow (allowing users to interact with form – based data), and business process workflow (such as those associated with supply chain, customer support, etc.).

Search and Audit

Sharing and workflow can also be enhanced with search and audit capabilities, as they work to tag, classify, and report on the data in their on-premise and cloud stores. Bringing order and manageability to exploding corporate data will be a major job, and more than enough to keep IT organizations busy for the present time. But it will be well worth it in light of the needs to be addressed next.

Discovery and Insight

At the highest levels of the hierarchy of needs for data, DaaS intelligently connects users with the right data for their needs, transforming it from a passive resource to be accessed into a proactive driver of value. This could take many forms, including the following:

• A social media-type feed that surfaces the work of your colleagues according to its relevance to your own work and your security profile, both to inform your work and to help you connect with new collaborators and experts.

• Context-aware services that automatically retrieve the files that a given employee will need in a given location, such as an incident record for the manufacturing plant that a safety inspector is visiting.

• A calendar-driven service to pre-populate a doctor’s tablet with electronic medical records (EMRs) and other clinical information for the day’s patients.

We are still a couple of years away from completely fulfilling the top levels of the hierarchy of needs for data, but the potential is already clear. Technological innovation and business needs will converge around new ways to work with data. As information overload persists, organizations will seek to drive additional productivity and empower users with the insights they need in order to innovate.

Rajiv Taori is vice president of product management for the Mobile Platforms group at Citrix. He is responsible for driving the product strategy for the company’s market leading enterprise mobility management solution, Citrix XenMobile.

Before Citrix, he was the founder and CEO of MobileOps Corporation, a pioneer in mobile application management and mobile application analytics. He conceived the product, built the team, and landed the first set of lighthouse customers, leading to its acquisition by a strategic partner.

Taori has also held executive positions at Oracle Corporation, where he grew their application management business from scratch to $350 million in five years with a combination of new product introductions and targeted technology acquisitions. He also has held leadership roles at Mercury Interactive and McKinsey & Company.

He holds an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay.

Bill Carovano is Senior Product Line Director at Citrix. As senior director, he is responsible for product management and marketing for the ShareFile Enterprise product line at Citrix. He has been with Citrix for more than 12 years in numerous roles, including customer-facing leadership positions in Consulting Services and systems engineering, as well as product development and marketing roles for the XenServer, XenDesktop and XenApp product lines. Prior to Citrix, Carovano spent five years with Accenture as an IT consultant and project manager.

Carovano has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Florida.

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One Comment

  1. Ramakant
    Posted June 5, 2017 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    I would rather flip the hierarchy based on criticality of needs , if Enterprises are able to achieve insights without investing on the lower portion of the pyramid , that will be sufficient to achieve their business objectives.

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