12 February 2019

Data Analytics: transforming data into successes

Digital is an inescapable reality and organizations have to define their strategies of transformation and implementation of digital processes to integrate them into their daily lives. In addition to creating new opportunities, it also makes it possible to access previously inaccessible online tools for companies, making them more agile and competitive.

From the cloud to the processing and cross-referencing of information (Analytics and Big Data), through Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), the opportunities are endless for companies that want to be more agile, innovative and competitive. In 2018, these were technological concepts avidly debated and that impacted the day to day, of the organizations, as well as of the individuals. And in relation to 2019, what can we expect from the point of view of strategic implementation at the technological level?

This year, 40% of digital transformation initiatives will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) services; and it is estimated that by 2021, 75% of business enterprise apps will use AI. Also relevant is the fact that more than 90% of consumers who will interact with customer support bots and more than 50% of new industrial robots will have AI. IDC expects that in the next 36 months, the use of Machine Learning, Deep Learning and Bots will be of great importance for application development. Firstly, it is important to stress that terms such as “Analytics”, “Big Data”, “Machine Learning” and other related terms can not be restricted to the logic of references to digital transformation processes as if they were buzzwords. Rather, it is necessary to look at these definitions from a practical point of view and as a starting point for an integrated strategic implementation of systems and solutions that enable companies and public sector organizations to evolve their processes, products and services. Taking all of this into consideration, it is worth looking at the year 2019 as the time when these strategies are defined and done.

According to IDC, by 2020, most of the activity of half of the two thousand largest companies in the world will depend on their ability to create improved products, services and digital experiences. To facilitate its development, investments in digital transformation will reach 2200 billion dollars by 2019, an increase of almost 60% compared to 2016.

In view of this, we can assume, with some degree of confidence, that some of the most relevant trends will be related to the Business Analytics area, whose objective is to collect, analyse, interpret and translate into relevant insights for organizations everything that comes from the data obtained through Big Data, Machine Learning and AI tools. For this reason, it is worth considering this subject as being an area of great preponderance in the year that has now begun.

According to a November 2018 report by consulting company McKinsey, only 21% of respondents say they have implemented AI solutions in various business areas, with investment in this technology still representing “a small share of total spend on digital technologies by part of the companies”. In this context, there are several sources that point to an increasing investment and adoption of AI solutions that allow to extend the range of possibilities in Analytics applications. Statistics show that companies with fewer than 100 employees had the highest adoption rate for Analytics in 2018. And the trend of adopting these softwares in smaller organizations is set to continue in 2019, especially as solutions that are increasingly accessible.

Taking advantage of the fact that these platforms have a huge capacity for data processing in large quantities and through an increasingly wide, massive and democratized data collection, it is expected that the volume of investment in AI solutions will increase during this year, enabling you to achieve better Business Analytics results.

In addition to the investment field, the year 2019 is also expected to bring great news in the area of storytelling in the context of Analytics. Without the correct contextualisation of the data presented or an attractive way to display them to business decision makers, the huge amounts of data resulting from the Analytics tools run the risk of becoming virtually indecipherable or, at worst, useless. It is therefore important to also look at the need for qualified professionals to be able to interpret the numbers and translate them into relevant information for the business and its stakeholders, ensuring the quality of the form and content of the presentation.

There are huge gains that can be drawn from a structured, well-designed approach to implementing a Business Analytics strategy that addresses the various tools available to organizations. It is therefore inevitable to look at this area as a rich source of inputs for the improvement of commercial, financial, IT, marketing or human resources departments, for example, but also in improving internal management processes, sales tools or even the products themselves.

At a time when the Portuguese business market is boiling with the added value that new technologies can provide, we need to be more aware of all the tools that can contribute to the success of organizations in the coming years. And, more and more, the implementation of AI tools is something to take very seriously, otherwise you will be irretrievably behind.

Opinion article published in Jornal Económico – February 12, 2019

 José Oliveira BI4ALL
  José Oliveira