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erwin’s predictions for 2021: Data Relevance Shines at the End of the Tunnel

I think it’s fair to say that we’re all glad to usher in a New Year.

Unexpected, unprecedented and disruptive, 2020 required radical transformation – within global organizations and our day-to-day lives. 

Our predictions for 2021 are rooted in what we’ve learned from this past year and the relevance of data  in getting us to where we are and where we need to go. With that said, here are seven predictions for the New Year:

1.      “Death of the Office” Alters Compliance: Since the pandemic, many organizations have decided remote work is here to stay. However, challenges persist if your organization doesn’t take proper precautions in supporting a remote workforce — from human resources to productivity and IT security – especially when regulations such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are involved. In highly regulated environments, such as financial services, healthcare and pharma, attestations, audit trails and compliance reporting are required regardless of circumstances and will be difficult with a manual, laborious approach. As a result, look for more automated compliance solutions to hit the market.

2.      Data’s Move to the Cloud Hits Warp Speed: As a result of COVID-19, enterprises are expediting their digital transformation and cloud migration efforts at record rates, with no end in sight. Historically, moving legacy data to the cloud hasn’t been easy or fast. As businesses migrate from legacy systems to the cloud, data governance and data intelligence will become increasingly relevant to the C-suite and tools to automate and expedite the process will take center stage.

3.      AI-Fueled Data Governance: Artificial intelligence (AI) has been narrowly tied to internet of things (IoT) with smart features like Alexa, Nest and self-driving cars. However, that definition is too narrow in terms of AI’s relation to data governance. AI will drive automation to ensure an organization’s framework is always accurate and up to date. AI-powered data governance will ensure data environments always stay up to date and controlled, enabling compliance and tagging of sensitive data.

4.      Rise of Data Governance Standards: Despite the rise of data governance, industry-wide standards have been lacking, surprisingly. This year, that will change as semantic metadata comes into its own driven by Microsoft’s Common Data Model (CDM). The CDM provides a best-practices approach to defining data to accelerate data literacy, automation, integration and governance across the enterprise. We anticipate more standards to be developed and released in CDM’s wake.

5.      EA Becomes Integral to Innovation: Enterprise architecture (EA) is having a resurgence as COVID-19 has forced organizations around the globe to re-examine or reimagine themselves. However, even in “normal times,” business leaders need to understand how to grow, bring new products to market through organic growth or acquisition, identify new trends and opportunities, determine if new opportunities provide a return on investment, etc. Organizations that can identify these opportunities and respond to them have a distinct edge over their competitors. EA will become even more critical to innovation in the year ahead.

6.      Data Becomes a Matter of Life or Death: To say that data will be the difference between life and death in 2021 is not hyperbole. The initial rounds of COVID 19 vaccines are being distributed as I write this. And at the heart of these monumental medical breakthroughs is data. From re-engineering research and development to managing trials and regulatory approvals to setting up manufacturing and distribution, data has made and will continue to make a life-and-death difference. Figuratively, data will mean life or death to businesses around the world to restoring some sort of normal activities, organizations across all industries will rely on data to make it happen. That data will need to be accurate and trusted so it can lead to actionable insights – and it will need to be governed throughout its lifecycle.  

7.      Workplace Humanity: A lesson learned from 2020 is that work is part of life, and the boundaries separating the two shrank considerably. Whether it was via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangout, etc., the pandemic forced us to bring our true selves, our spouses, our kids and our pets to work this past year. As a result, we’ve developed a new level of humanity in the workplace, which may be the ultimate silver lining from these dark times. From employees to customers, we’ve had to communicate more, listen more, and help each other more. My hope is that this trend of being human in the workplace extends into 2021 and beyond.

COVID changed everything. However, I believe we will start to see the light at the end of this dark tunnel in 2021. We’ll see innovation accelerate at a pace we haven’t seen in years, perhaps not since the dot-com boom. But to succeed in the new normal and avoid false starts and bad decisions, enterprises must be able to find, navigate, understand and use their most valuable data assets.

For all of us at erwin, I’d like to wish our customers and partners a healthy and happy New Year!


Learn. Transform. Advance.

This was the theme of the global conference we produced in October, but I’d venture to say it’s the mantra global organizations need to adopt as we continue to deal with the most disruptive event of our lifetime: COVID-19.


When I look back, I should not be surprised that 2020 has been incredibly busy for us here at erwin. I’ve made decisions during the past nine months I never thought I’d have to, and I’m sure this is the reality for you and your organization as well.

As CEO, of course I had big plans for us, but then the world and everything in it changed. However, data is central to our mission, and data is the key to sound decision-making. Thankfully, we were in the right business at the right time.

After making sure our employees were safe and equipped to work from home, once we closed our offices, we emerged with more focus on that mission and more time to spend with customers. All the time I used to spend traveling, I now spend talking – or listening – to my employees or our customers from my dining room table.


To survive and eventually thrive in the face of radical disruption requires transformation that’s just as radical:

· Developing new business models, like breweries and distillers manufacturing hand sanitizer

· Reimaging current business models, like moving fitness classes outdoors

· Creating new products and services, such as restaurants providing text check-in curb service

· Market expansion, with traditional grocers becoming online shopping hubs

The companies that come out of this historic period of global uncertainty and change will be those that take an intelligent, data-driven approach to business.

The best example I can point to, which underscores the importance and relevance of data, is pharmaceutical companies that have been working at unprecedented speed to develop not only effective treatments for the coronavirus but also vaccines. Earlier this week, several historic announcements were made about the availability of the first shots and the plans to ship and administer them.

At the heart of these medical breakthroughs is data. From re-engineering research and development to managing trials and regulatory approvals to setting up manufacturing and distribution, data has made and will continue to make a life-and-death difference. Although I can’t share the details, I’m proud that erwin had a hand in this massive global health initiative.

While your organization may not be on the front line in the fight against the virus, you’ve no doubt been impacted by it. Have you had to revisit and reset priorities? Change your business processes? Confront new compliance challenges as a result of the changes you had to institute?

And when all the crazy ends, and it will end, are you prepared to capitalize on new opportunities?


Adversity spurs innovation, and I believe innovation will drive forward at a rapid pace once the global ecosystem finds its new normal. We might well be on our way. Will you be ready?

Enterprises must be able to find, navigate, understand and use their most valuable data assets. We knew that to be true before the pandemic, but now it’s become even more obvious.  

Despite social distancing, I have to say our customer intimacy has never been greater. I believe that’s because our employees are operating with a heightened sense of purpose and urgency. We focused on doing what’s right, including making training for our solutions and other resources available online at no charge and releasing a free app to help organizations communicate and manage their remote workforces more effectively. We also made professional and consulting services more accessible.

The point is that if you stay close to your employees and your customers, good things will happen. Over communication is key. Those relationships will develop and deepen, even via Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Perhaps that’s because we’ve all realized how much we have in common. I might have a “C” in my title, but my wife is still annoyed that I’ve hijacked the dining room, and my daughters make a lot of noise being home instead of at school. Titles have taken a backseat to humanity as we all try to stay healthy, sane and accomplish what’s on our to-do lists each day.

Finding that balance is important. You must make time for your family and yourself because we do seem to be working longer and harder. Exercise. Listen to less news. Be thankful.

And with that, I want to express my appreciation to our customers, partners, employees and their families. I wish each of you health, time to enjoy the holiday season in a meaningful but perhaps smaller way, and here is to a brighter 2021 together.