The COVID-19 pandemic has immensely impacted human lives and completely altered the way businesses are operating. With this pandemic, businesses and their leaders have become aware of their data than ever before. In order to keep relevancy amid this crisis, businesses are relying on big data and analytical tools to not only understand the virus but also to strategies their business for the post-COVID world.
In fact, a recent market report has estimated that the data analytics market is poised to reach $109.71 billion by the year 2024, growing at a CAGR of almost 14%. Experts believe data analytics will not only help businesses survive the pandemic but will also aid them to move to the new normal. Nitin Jain, head of the customer experience at Mondelēz International told Analytics India Magazine in an interview that, businesses are undergoing tremendous kind of transformation, along with the “changes that we may have seen in the last 2-3 months is equivalent to the changes that would have otherwise taken 20 years to happen.”
The world indeed has turned towards data analytics for creating a sustainable future for their businesses. However, it is also crucial to know what impacts this pandemic could bring in among the analytics professionals. Here are a few trends that are going to gain traction post-COVID world and will alter the way analytics professionals work:
Remote working is going to be a norm
One significant change that COVID-19 is going to bring is the remote working culture for analytics professionals. With the mandated lockdown in place, businesses have asked their employees to start working from home, and that is going to be a norm for analytics professionals in the post-COVID world.
In fact, in a recent research done by Analytics India Magazine, it has been revealed that the majority of companies during this global lockdown have allowed their analytics professionals to work from home. Out of which, 52.2% of those respondents have further stated that remote working has no to little impact on their work, but 8.7% of respondents stating that WFH is having a positive effect on their analytics work.
These numbers highlight that the majority of the companies are going to continue to allow their analytics professionals to work from home. Therefore it would be imperative for them to get adjusted to the lifestyle of remote working and address the associated challenges like — remote collaboration, less access to data and tools, and less exposure to management. However remote working can also be beneficial to data scientists where they would have flexible schedules to work with, alongside they will also be able to have their own relaxed environment with limited distractions to work complex data-related problems, which in turn can increase their productivity. However, whether suitable or not, remote working is here to stay and therefore, the faster analytics professionals get used to it, the better it will be for the company.
Continuous upskilling would be a must
With pandemic reorienting the way things are operating, business leaders are relying on advanced technologies and automation to keep up their relevance during the economic downturn. There is a significant shift happening in business operations — product innovation as well as customer interaction. Therefore, companies are looking for professionals with advanced skills. Businesses have realised the redundancy of older skills and understood the importance of continuous reskilling to get the best out of their employees in this current situation.
In fact, Irwin Anand, the managing director of Udemy India, an online learning and teaching platform, believes that continuous learning will be the new currency that can help all of us succeed as a workforce. “At a time of unprecedented change and heightened concern around recent events, the most important job skill would be the ability to learn.” This is indeed supported by a report that has stated that 64% of Indian tech professionals will increase their focus on learning to navigate through these challenging times.
To join in the effort, many ed-tech companies have even come up with free analytics and AI courses to support industry professionals with their career journey. This sort of upskilling will not only help companies with their revised business strategies but will also help analytics professionals to enhance their career graph and be relevant in this ever-evolving technology landscape. When asked one of the ed-tech leaders about their view, the CEO and founder of Simplilearn, Krishna Kumar said to the media, As companies are massively adopting new technologies, rapidly, “it is a necessity for professionals to upskill and stay ahead of the curve.”
Democratising data for everybody in the organisation
As AI is going to take the frontline for businesses to sustain in the post-COVID world, it would become imperative for companies to democratise data in their organisation as well make their employees aware about data being the key for their business to sustain. This will allow employees to get hands-on data without any bottleneck and be creative with their work, and can even create frameworks for newer innovations. The democratisation of data will not only allow every employee to leverage data for their work and speed up their decision-making process but will also make them responsible for managing, distributing as well as consuming data, making them more agile.
Data democratisation also enhances the concept of self-service analytics, and therefore, businesses rely on customised analytical tools that help them aggregate siloed data and provide the capability of data visualisation for employees. However, democratising data comes with privacy and security challenges which business leaders and analytical professionals need to address before going ahead with providing clean access of data to their employees in the post-COVID world. Despite, providing access to required data can help employees make an informed decision for business which will, in turn, free up time for analytics and IT professionals to concentrate on more complex projects.
With businesses trying to keep up their pace to sustain the pandemic, data democratisation would indeed help organisations to make decisions that would be beneficial for their bottom line. Consequently, leaders should start addressing the challenges that data democratisation brings into the organisation.
Heavy inclination to enhance customer experience and interaction
With the disruption in business operation, one thing that has critically changed for companies is the customer interaction. The crisis not only changed the buying patterns of the customers but also has threatened the reaction between the business and their customers. Therefore, to sustain the pandemic, enterprises are relying on advanced digital technologies to interact with their customers. In fact, in recent research, done by Analytics India Magazine, it has been revealed that 10.5% analytics professionals in their organisations have been working on customer engagement related analytics and 9.5% respondents have stated that they are working on customer relationship management-related projects amid this crisis.
In recent news, Freshworks CEO, Girish Mathrubootham, who recently acquired Seattle-based AI startup AnsweriQ, stated that “The integration of AnsweriQ’s technology will increase our AI capability in customer engagement space to offer significant value to our customers, which is extremely important to sustain the days after coronavirus.” With social distancing in mind, many companies have also started interacting with their customers virtually, along with creating solutions that can help their customers in these uncertain times. Keeping a strong customer interaction and an enhanced customer experience for their companies would help leaders build resilience in this fast-changing landscape.
Moving to the cloud would be inevitable
Although this pandemic has disrupted many businesses, it has indeed accelerated the adoption of cloud computing among enterprises. With companies mandating working from home for employees, it has created a domino effect on organisations and started to rely on cloud infrastructures for having a continuity. It has become difficult for companies working with on-premise data centres with reduced maintenance staff.
Cloud services have allowed businesses and their employees to have seamless access to data and critical applications while working from home. In fact, according to a recent Deloitte report, the cloud industry is going to surpass its growth rate of 24% of the past three years. This highlights that the demand for cloud services is drastically increased among enterprises during this lockdown.
In recent news, Microsoft has stated on its blog that the company has seen a massive rise in its cloud revenue — up 39% year over year in the third quarter. “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months,” said Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft. Consequently, it would be imperative for analytics professionals to get a grasp on the cloud to make the best use of these services to create more enhanced analytics work.
Understanding the business and bringing business value would be the key
Knowing the business would be critical in the post-COVID world, it would be necessary for analytics and data science professionals to understand the core of the business and align their work that could benefit the company’s bottom line. It would become imperative for analytics professionals to continuously bring in value to the business to keep their relevance in their organisation. Usually, the majority of data science work is related to research and less on implementation that could solve real-world business problems. Therefore, it would be essential for data scientists to create and work on projects that go into production for bringing in business value.
Understanding the business would also help analytics professionals to create a strong data-storytelling for their stakeholders. This would include understanding the core of the business operation and what problems your leaders need to solve, and stakeholders expectations, which will help in building the context of your data-story. Post-COVID world companies would be looking for professionals who are agile and can bring in the competitive edge for businesses. And therefore, analytics professionals should understand the business objective and grasp the strategic goals of the company, which would help them understand the requirement of analysing huge volumes of data, supporting the crucial business needs.
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Sejuti currently works as Senior Technology Journalist at Analytics India Magazine (AIM). Reach out at email@example.com