Artificial Intelligence. Blockchain. The future lies in these technologies, but many questions remain about what how these technologies will the affect the data protection industry.

We surveyed 759 global IT decision makers and asked their take on emerging technologies in data protection, how they plan to incorporate them into their IT strategies, and barriers to implementing them.

What are these emerging technologies?

According to our survey, 74% of IT decision makers are familiar with AI while only 35% cite being very familiar with blockchain. So, what are they, really?

Let’s look at blockchain first. At the most basic level, blockchain is “a growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data. By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of the data.”1 Its potential use varies from simplifying record keeping for banks or securely storing health records and medical history. For a more in-depth explanation of how blockchain works, check out this infographic from Reuters.

In terms of AI, it’s technology that enables “a system’s ability to correctly interpret external data, to learn from such data, and to use those learnings to achieve specific goals and tasks through flexible adaptation.”2 Gartner identified machine learning as one of the top security and risk management (SRM) trends last year,3 and notes that while the idea of AI emerged 60 years ago, the technology is still in a pioneering era as it continues to mature.4

Incorporating emerging technologies in data protection strategies

We predict that emerging technologies have the potential to majorly effect data protection solutions in the coming year, enabling IT teams to work smarter, not harder.

AI will enable organizations to go beyond real-time insight to predict and avert unplanned downtime or physical disasters before they happen. They’ll use these solutions to intelligently restore the most frequently accessed, cross-functional or critical data first – “triaging” data and proactively replicating it to the cloud before a downtime event occurs. Further, organizations will finally be able to wrap their arms around data and application proliferation with AI-powered solutions that will predict how much storage they’ll need based on current data growth.

Despite the unfamiliarity with, and hesitation to use blockchain, it does come with intriguing features and benefits. One of the more unique features of blockchain is that it can help guarantee that data isn’t being changed or manipulated by providing a snapshot of a transaction during a specific period of time. Due to this unique benefit, more companies will seek blockchain storage solutions so they always have an authentic record of their data use. However, the jury is still out on how IT teams plan to safeguard blockchain. According to our survey, nearly a quarter of IT decision makers believe blockchain is inherently secure and doesn’t need additional data protection, while 66% believe it needs to be safeguarded to protect against potential threats.

Overcoming obstacles to implementing emerging technologies

According to our research, the vast majority of IT decision makers are intrigued by data backup and recovery solutions that incorporate AI or machine learning, recognizing that AI-powered solutions have the potential to deliver capabilities beyond data protection, such as threat predictability strategies.

But while the majority of IT decision makers are likely to consider data protection solutions that incorporate AI, barriers still exist to using blockchain for a variety of reasons, ranging from the perceived difficulty of integration into existing infrastructures, a lack of internal resources to manage it, and unfamiliarity with the technology itself.

The benefits of incorporating these innovative solutions into BCDR strategies could outweigh overcoming the obstacles of implementing them. As “intelligent” data recovery solutions continue to evolve, we expect more IT decision makers to adopt AI solutions as part of their data protection plans. However, our research shows it will take more time for IT decision makers to fully understand and implement blockchain technologies.

For more insights from our survey, read Data Protection in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockchain
2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0007681318301393
3. https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/gartner-top-5-security-and-risk-management-trends/
4. https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/exploit-ais-long-term-potential/

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