Data and analytics predictions and priorities for 2020

Caserta's CEO and principal data strategist discusses the data and analytics predictions and priorities for the year ahead.

We are at a pivotal point in the evolution of how we use data. With unprecedented technologies and new ways of harnessing and capturing the data that exists around all us, it is our responsibility to leverage that data in a timely and efficient way that improves lives and increases business value.

In the predictions below, learn how organisations will take strategic steps to become fully data and analytics-driven throughout 2020.

Prediction 1: Data spiders will come to fruition in a significant way

Starting in 2020, organisations will implement technology that sits in their corporate environment that will be able to scour their entire environment, locate all databases and datasets, and identify all of the enterprise’s information assets.

Early arrivals in this field include Modak Analytics, Manta, Global IDs, and Integris, but the number of providers is expected to grow throughout 2020. The ability to manage and monetise information is predicated on understanding the complete information portfolio, not only inside the organisation, but also throughout the extended business ecosystem.

Prediction 2: Bots will build data pipelines

Currently, we manually join data across different data sources and manually identify patterns to come up with business insights. In 2020, businesses will start to train machines to interpret dataset structures and infer ways to integrate them virtually and/or physically. Then, bots will automatically build data integration and analytics pipelines with nominal human intervention.

Recently, corporate IT departments, overwhelmed with the variety of data sources, have succumbed to building one-off data integration solutions for functionally-specific analytic needs. Or, they’ve resolved to dump data into unarchitected data lakes, leaving the integration later on to those using the data. ETL tool vendors soon will recognise and take advantage of the opportunity to plug this hole in the market with intelligent, dynamic enterprise data integration capabilities.

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Prediction 3: Artificial intelligence will automatically unify data

The greatest opportunity for data and analytics solution providers is to help organisations overcome the data literacy challenge. Such solutions would offer the ability of less data literate users to ask complex business questions and have data identified, integrated, and analysed on demand.

With the maturity of AI, machines can learn which data can be unified with other data to provide predictions and prescriptive advice. Doing so will not only be efficient, but will help prevent human error in selecting the wrong data and integrating it improperly. This development has already started happening with tools like Tamr and Kinetica, but will continue to mature throughout 2020.

Prediction 4: Traditional BI will be replaced by NLP and chatbots

Most of us use some kind of a virtual assistant like Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant to ask about nearby restaurants or the shortest commute to work, or to set alerts and send messages. Just as other technologies have evolved from consumer usage to business ranks so will the ability to issue hands-free voice queries and directives in an enterprise context.

In 2020, we will start to see traditional BI being replaced wholesale by NLP and chatbots, where any user can interact directly with “the business” to ask questions, or even to issue instructions. This development will make reporting as we know it today entirely obsolete.

This prediction is currently the most achievable, as several companies are already dedicated to it, including Tableau’s Ask Data, WolframAlpha, AnswerRocket, EasyAsk, and Arcadia Data. Using NLP and chatbots instead of traditional BI will continue to mature over the next 2-3 years until we are exclusively using chatbots to get the information we want.

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Prediction 5: Organisations will offer data literacy programs

The past year, one of the biggest asks of our clients has been to help educate the rest of the organisation on how to become data-driven. Data-driven implies that most business users will fundamentally change the way they think about the business and their own job – from having people making decisions based on analytic input, to having analytics make decisions based only in part on human input. The speed of business and escalating market dynamics demands this kind of agility. However, unless this fundamental shift is coupled with a formal data literacy and change management program, enterprise-wide acceptance of the emerging “self-driving” enterprise is going to be very difficult.

In 2020, we will see organisations seeking to establish formalised data literacy programs throughout the enterprise. As a result, leading data and analytics consulting firms and an emerging crop of independent trainers will start to offer a variety of data literacy workshops, programs, and certifications.

Prediction 6: Organisations will measure their data and analytics maturity

As it becomes compulsory for companies to become data and analytics-driven, executives and corporate boards will mandate that their degree of maturity be gauged and tracked. Basic data maturity models have been around for a while, many of them vendor-specific and having no capability for tracking ongoing maturity improvements or degradation. Maturity models that consider both data and analytics capabilities are just starting to emerge. They will become well-established in 2020, enabling organisations to establish a baseline for where they are across a spectrum of indicators and develop practical plans for improvement.

Although accepted standards for data and analytics maturity models are still years away, the next generation of models will mature to include benchmarking within industries, geographies and organisation types, incorporate hundreds of key indicators, and be used by investors.

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Prediction 7: Data’s value will be formally assessed and tracked

In 2020, we will see organisations that want to become data-driven start to go beyond merely talking about managing data as an asset and begin measuring it like one. Heeding the old adage, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” chief data officers (CDOs) and forward-thinking CFOs will begin applying asset valuation methods like those detailed in the book Infonomics to understand and improve their (and others’) data’s potential and actual economic performance. This will lead to organisations identifying evermore innovative ways to deploy or monetise their array of data assets.

Prediction 8: Digital and data leadership will converge

As leading organisations have simultaneously been attempting to become internally data-driven and to transform digitally from an external perspective, often they have hired both a chief data officer and a chief digital officer — or executives with alternative titles but the same set of responsibilities. These two “CDOs” share similar goals in deploying data more strategically, but their day-to-day objectives are not sufficiently aligned.

Because each role depends on the other in order to advance the business, we will see a convergence of the two roles in 2020, either through an improved collaborative relationship or an outright combining of the roles.

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Prediction 9: Fear of the cloud will evaporate

The past two years saw a tremendous acceptance of and movement of enterprise information assets into the cloud. Going into 2020, we will find that the economics of cloud storage is too good to pass up, and resistance to the cloud for financial reasons will become a thing of the past. Even some cloud vendors like Snowflake have enabled a data exchange platform to further improve cloud economics via data monetisation.

Moreover, throughout 2020 cloud vendors solutions will address regional issues related to data sovereignty, data residency, and data localisation — mitigating inherent privacy and compliance risks that have given organisations pause until now.

Prediction 10: The healthcare data revolution takes off

2020 will be the year for healthcare data–both its integration and widespread deployment. Healthcare data standards throughout the US have begun to emerge and become accepted. As a result, we are beginning to see a significant amount of sharing and innovation of healthcare data, especially in the areas of medical and pharmaceutical research. Throughout 2020, we will see hospitals and insurers move from conventional wisdom and standardised treatments to truly personalised patient treatments and clinical pathways based solely on data and analytics.

Written by Joe Caserta (L), founder and CEO of Caserta and Doug Laney (R), Caserta’s principal data strategist

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