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Approaching a New Era of Analytics   Featured

Approaching a New Era of Analytics    "Tumai Beach in Otago New Zealand"

 Around the world, companies are doing amazing things with analytics and data-driven decision-making. The user’s experience has never been more targeted and personalized than it is today. From product recommendations and individualized playlists to AI-powered personal trainers, the strategic use of analytics provides customers with exceptional, unique and tailored experiences. But even with all of this exciting progress, we have only scratched the surface of what’s possible.

For any company, there are lots of possible challenges standing in the way. Some of the most common issues are vague analytical objectives, data siloes and disparate systems, and resistance to change.

To succeed as modern intelligent enterprises, companies must unite the power of their platform with their organizational objectives, allowing data and analytics to seamlessly inform decisions, rapidly improve speed and agility, and comfortably lead the entire business toward more efficient and effective processes. 

Deeper Data, Evolving Enablement 

The first wave of data disruption came about a decade ago, when coding-based analytics platforms became visualization-based. That brought on the era of modern business intelligence (BI), where data could be represented in interactive environments more approachable to the average user, helping companies start to empower employees with the insights at hand.

Today, we are on the verge of another market upheaval — augmented analytics. Augmented analytics use natural language and make machine learning as well as predictive capabilities accessible to business users. By enhancing the power of analytics with artificial intelligence and machine learning, companies will soon be able to drive insights and results at a scale and speed that was previously unimaginable.

Through the combination of AI, machine learning, and product use data, users can benefit from predictive (and preventative) alerts where issues are anticipated and solutions are proposed before they even surface. In order to connect this data across areas of the business which may be traditionally siloed, many businesses are moving to a single platform leveraging multiple data sources where employees have greater access to data modeling, planning, workflow management, predictive analytics, and advanced visualization.

This trend in digital transformation can enable continuous automated planning based on rich internal and external data. Technology today is not far from a world where changes in data trigger updates to plans or forecasts and users are notified when their attention is needed. These automated plans can then be complemented by scenario-based simulations for business leaders to add their insights and make informed decisions based on the calculated options. With these capabilities, the vision of fully automated planning and simulation will become reality. Given the exponential speed of this transformation, it is exciting to imagine the possibilities that enterprises will have over the next 18 months.

Look at the way analytical capabilities have matured over time and how the questions we ask ourselves have changed:

  • Standard and ad hoc reports/dashboards answered one simple question — What happened?
  • Self-service BI and data visualization answered another — Why did it happen?
  • Augmented analytics will help answer an even greater one — What will happen?

By embracing this shift, we can begin to answer the most important questions of all: What is the best possible outcome, and how can we optimize our operations to ensure it becomes reality? 

Digitally Determined 

As data-forward, future-driven organizations know, the ability to adapt to ongoing trends and carve a path toward a successful future requires a solid and integrated data foundation in the cloud. Look at what happened in the onset of COVID-19, when companies with their feet firmly planted in next-generation technologies found themselves poised to respond with agility and resiliency in the face of massive upheaval. How can you best enable your organization to be digitally determined and ready for what lies ahead?

Consider these three strategies to address common challenges: 

  • Clearly define business outcomes tied to analytics.

Focus on the problems you’re trying to solve and the opportunities you’re trying to create. Analytics is a tool that can be used in a limitless number of ways. Clear priorities from company leadership will help guide your teams in identifying the right use cases in line with your larger strategy.

  • Connect data across a single platform. 

Companies no longer need to stitch together disparate solutions to store and analyze data. Instead, the market is turning to integrated platforms that can handle all of an organization’s data and analytics needs, across multiple applications, areas of the business, and across cloud, on-premise, and third-party data.

  • Be open to change. 

When incorporating AI into your business strategy and operations, you may need to make changes to your business processes. For example, you may need to collect data you do not currently gather from new, external sources to complement in-house data. Or you may need to increase data literacy within your organization. According to research by New Vantage Partners, 91 percent of companies surveyed cited people and process challenges as the biggest hurdle to becoming a data-driven organization. In other words, the structure, agility, and openness of an organization can make or break its success in leveraging augmented analytics.

While the path to true business transformation can be challenging, the value realized with AI is worth the climb. Leaning into industry best practices can help mitigate those challenges.

The Approaching Analytical Revolution 

Through leveraging the power of analytics, many companies have totally transformed the way they work, delivered better customer outcomes, and empowered users to make data-driven decisions on behalf of their customers and business. There is so much potential here to create new opportunities, illuminate markets you should enter or exit, increase revenues, better serve your customers and their customers, and ultimately take your business to an entirely new level.

Laying the groundwork for an intelligent data future means embedding artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive capabilities into business technology to create a common layer that collects consistent data across applications and provides insights in a harmonized way. Digitally determined businesses that learn to navigate our new data reality and discover ways they can stay ahead of the curve are best positioned to not only survive future challenges, but also ensure optimal outcomes ahead.

Lou Meshulam, Head of Cloud for SAP North America  

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