Businesses are starting to recover from 2020 (the year that changed everything), and the first quarter of 2021 is now behind us. So, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for the world of data analytics?

We are beginning to see a return to service for many businesses, with many now relying on data to help them make strategic decisions on the best way to do that. This will have a major impact on data and analytics, as there will be a drive towards being able to quickly adapt to the next round of changes ushered in by the ongoing pandemic and the recovery of the economy (or not).

Data analytics has always been an area of growth. In 2019, before we had even heard of Coronavirus, LinkedIn reported that four of the top ten in-demand skills for 2020 were related to data analytics, including business analysis and scientific computing. In November 2020, after COVID had hit, they continued to say that two of the top five growing skills since the pandemic hit were related to data analytics.

A recent management review by MIT Sloan also pointed out that the current downturn in the recession we are experiencing is unlikely to diminish demand for data skills within businesses – and may, in fact, increase the demand if anything.

So, what effect will all of this have on data analytics in 2021?

Trend One: Business users driving the need for on-demand data availability

There is an old saying that “time is money” and this is especially relevant when it comes to data. If it takes six months for a business to get the data it needs to support a decision it wants to make, then the opportunity will have well and truly been lost.

For a business to be able to grab opportunities and drive critical outcomes quickly, it needs to be able to access the relevant data quickly, which means shaking up the traditional tasks of complex data migrations, long ETL processes and slow manual data preparation.

It also means that there needs to be more of a focus on collaboration throughout businesses, with tech-driven departments working closely with other departments, such as marketing.

Trend Two: Improvement in AI-driven narration and storytelling

It is not always easy to tell a story with data, and more often than not some kind of explanation is needed as not everyone within a business will be able to visualise or narrate the story in a clear and consistent way.

This is where AI can play a huge role in helping to keep data visualisations as simple as possible, making information accessible and consistent and also more engaging. If AI is applied effectively in data analytics, then businesses will be able to take advantage of more time available to them to take action on what the data is telling them, rather than spending time debating what it actually means.

Trend Three: Increased need for dedicated analytics and data collaboration

Independence and flexibility are the most in-demand traits for senior business leaders today, as these are the traits that tend to drive feedback and collaboration throughout a business. This is now also starting to drive the appearance of specialist collaboration solutions for data and analytics teams to not only help them engage with each other but also their customers inside the business.

 Data and analytics teams could do worse than looking to IT organisations for inspiration, as more and more of them are now acting as service provider partners, offering customers a more modern and multichannel experience solution.

Trend Four: Return to service testing the capabilities of companies’ data analytics

With the world starting to reopen up after the COVID-19 lockdown, data analytics capabilities are going to be severely tested. Things to consider include:

  • Can we identify less risk-averse customers and market to them?
  • How do we monitor signs of trouble in real-time?
  • How do we prioritise the return of employees by job, location and past performance etc.?
  • How do we re-engage a massive supply chain that has not been used for the last 12 months or so?

In fact, the biggest challenge may not lie in analysing the data, but actually being able to quickly get to it, when it is probably now sitting in departmental silos.

Trend Five: Data visualisation as a commodity

Data visualisation is no longer something that is reserved for data analysts only – it is everywhere and in everything. A recent report projected that the market for data visualisation tools would be worth around $19.2 billion by 2027, up from just $8.85 billion in 2020.

So, it looks like 2021 may be the year of the data consumer and analyst inside businesses helping to drive their organisations forward. Therefore, organisations that understand and can meet the needs of these business users will be the ones that go on to achieve success.

If you are looking to take the next step in your data analytics career, or have a gap in your team that you need to fill, please contact the experienced team at Agile Recruit.

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