Alternative Text Steve Pownall | 28 January 2021 |

7 things we learned about analytics in 2020


There’s no doubt about it, 2020 turned the world upside down. Some businesses thrived, all faced unprecedented challenges, and some were able to pivot into new-found territories.

Organisations faced remote working on mass and consumer behaviour was all about online. And with many of these challenges still present as we head into 2021 what’s next for many enterprises?

At DeeperThanBlue we’re looking back at what we learned about analytics in 2020 and questioning what this means going forward. Here are our top 7 learnings.


  1. The need for cloud-based business intelligence analytics has never been greater

In an unpredictable landscape, analytics and BI are essential to plan and execute strategies that are fundamental for survival. And with the huge shift to remote working, those businesses and teams that have already transitioned to the cloud know that their tools and processes can be used anywhere. But for those businesses that haven’t transitioned? Well, it’s becoming an integral business priority. According to Forbes, between February and April 2020, there was a 68% increase in enterprises that stated cloud computing is critical to their operations. This is only growing.

Cloud-based BI solutions enable you to:

  • Eliminate hardware-related costs
  • Deploy your solution fast, scale it up and compute resources, time and cost effectively
  • Access data via any web browser or mobile device
  • Securely share actionable insights amongst colleagues regardless of the location

If it isn’t already, this should be a priority for all businesses.


  1. Survival in 2021 is data-driven

With organisations facing such unpredictability in 2020 and little to depend on in the way of a constant, model-based artificial intelligence (AI) saw a resurgence. And often, it was brand-new and sometimes small datasets (as the lifespan of data sources shrunk in some cases) that were being used to turn guesswork into strategic and evidence-based decisions. This became an essential skill over the course of 2020 and is set to continue.


  1. Your analytics models and your wider business strategy should work in tandem

This goes without saying. By aligning your business strategy with your analytics models, you ensure that your data provides the required insight for those within your organisation to make the right decisions in a timely way – something that was crucial throughout 2020.

And when integrated properly, data can accelerate your business strategy by improving processes and empowering the people needed to execute them. This is key as we face ongoing unpredictability well into 2021. The right tools and the right strategic approach to data management is fundamental.


  1. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t have a lot of historical data to work from

Sure, you may have gone into 2020 basing your business decisions from your historical data. But how do you respond when the world is then turned on its head? With markets changing and a fluctuating landscape, often we’re now working with much smaller datasets. These require agile methodologies and continually revised assumptions to drive responsible decision making in these unprecedented times.

Those organisations with the flexibility – and the right BI solutions in place – are the ones able to weather the storm, and in some cases thrive.

And the future? Gartner predicts that more than 33% of large organisations will have analytics practicing decision intelligence such as decision modelling by 2023 – this is a framework where traditional techniques are brought together with advanced techniques like AI and machine learning. Can you really afford to become technologically complacent?


  1. It’s time to invest in predictive analytics

In 2021, we’ll be asking questions of whether trends we’re seeing now are COVID-19 related, just anomalies in the data, or insights that can be attributed to the short or the long term. This data must then help us find the answers of how we manage our businesses moving forward. Predictive analytics is essential. Importantly, these COVID-related questions will have to be accounted for with data being constantly refreshed and connected to as many sources as possible to maximise accuracy. If your organisation isn’t yet using predictive analytics, now is the time.

And if you’re already there, it’s probably time to level up with prescriptive analytics. Where predictive analytics detail what will happen, prescriptive analytics provide this as well as scenarios of what could happen better if you did x, y, or z – this is essential insight to power business strategy in 2021 and beyond.


  1. There’s never been a better time to adopt new technologies

As IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said back in May: “Technology platforms are the basis for competitive advantage in the 21st century. They will determine how quickly you can pivot to new market opportunities, how well you serve your clients, how much you can scale, and how fast you can respond to a crisis like the one we’re facing today”.

And what we’ve seen since May, is how today’s landscape has rapidly accelerated tech trends that were once bubbling under the service. For many organisations they’re being forced to digitally transform at speed. New technologies are absolutely fundamental for business resilience and growth. And technologies that you can upgrade, too. Now is the time to start the modernisation process to avoid being left in the dust with a technology that’s costing more than its functionality is worth to continue using.


  1. Don’t rest on your laurels

Even if you’ve recently modernised your estate or undertaken a large technology transformation, you really shouldn’t consider yourself done. As organisations face new challenges and grapple with the need to rapidly accelerate, IT decision makers will be moving ever closer to the C-suite when it comes to business strategy and decision making. Investment in the right technology is vital and is only growing in importance.

If you’re keen to learn more about enhancing your business analytics, data and reporting, get in touch with our Analytics team today.

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