BI & Analytics: A race to the future

While corporates are moving towards Industry 4.0 and the internet of things and internet of systems is here to take center stage, we still have companies struggling with legacy system modernization. The term ‘data’ as we know it, is evolving and paving the way for topics like ‘data storytelling’ and ‘data gravity’. In this race for digitization, there will be clear winners and losers. Although some might say that the world was always a volatile and uncertain one, industries have weathered more storms and still stood strong. History has always been more kind to winners and those who miss the bus are forgotten. The rules of the game keep changing in the corporate world and there aren’t many who can outlast the competition. A testament to the fact is that only 54 companies have been a constant in the Forbes-500 list in its history of 65 years!

While the internet era ushered in many changes, it also brought in players which were thought to be newbies. As time went by, they have cemented their place in the corporate world and are twisting the laws of the standard playbook. These companies have been given an acronym GAFA or as we know them in common parlance Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon. It’s not only other corporates who are grappling with the meteoric rise of these companies, but also law and order enforcement agencies. Many countries, and the common man himself finds it hard to understand what it is that they do – how they earn money, and how they’ve made the world a lot more connected.

One of the biggest changes they have incited in the nature of other companies is the focus on data-centric strategies. The sophisticated algorithms they have built – can now predict the likes and dislikes of a person, their political views, and shopping needs – are causing a pivotal shift in how other companies treat their data. Previously we knew that data was important, but that it could be the focal point on which an entire business could be built; was unfathomable. As the GAFA rose, so did the amount of data flowing to them and other such applications. Through the various apps we use, we generate about 2.1 megabytes of data per second.

One such app, Netflix is another platform that uses data heavily to understand user behavior on its platform and makes decisions based on that. Their recommendation algorithm tracks things like the time you watch a show, what your engagement is with it, the device you’re using, the searches you performed, and the completion rate of the show. These are just a few variables used in their algorithm and the result is million dollar grossing shows like “The House of Cards”.

As algorithms got smarter, so did data processing tools. Gradually these tools became a part of the business intelligence toolkit. Business intelligence as a term gave importance to the journey ‘data’ has traversed in all these years. It

encompasses business analytics, data mining and visualization, tools and infrastructure, and best practices which help organizations take more data-driven decisions.

Originally developed in the 1960s BI was just a way of sharing information. By the 1980s it developed into computer models with the capability of turning data into insights. Today these tools are used to do things like:

  • Track performance of various teams
  • Analyze user behaviour
  • Optimize operations and decrease costs
  • Find actionable insights
  • Resource planning
  • Real-time process monitoring

While these tools are used individually for all these functions, they’re often just another one amongst the many software on our desktops. They’re not being adopted by various business functions. The true value of these solutions will be measured when our workforce begins to use these to make informed decisions. The conversation has to shift from ‘adoption’ to ‘engagement’. One of the ways to do this is to go towards a ‘data storytelling’ approach, where these insights are simplified and told to the audience in the format of a story. We have to create open conversations around these insights and invite suggestions and feedbacks. Such exercises should be undertaken with representatives from different business functions so that there is a diversity of perspectives, and better decisions can be taken.

Slowly as the world is moving towards the cloud, so is data. Gartner research indicates that “The worldwide public cloud services market is forecasted to grow by 6.3% in 2020 to a total of $257.9 billion, up from $242.7 billion in 2019″. As data moves to the cloud, so will analytics tools. We are now moving towards a future of cloud analytics. To stay ahead of the competition, companies have to stay agile and evolve faster. This pandemic was probably just a litmus test to see who’s ready for the future. We hope you are!

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