Four key data analytics trends 2018
Data literacy, known as the ability to read, work with, analyze, and argue with data, is bec...
Data literacy will gain company-wide and societal priority
Data literacy, known as the ability to read, work with, analyze, and argue with data, is becoming more important in today’s analytics economy. In fact, Gartner predicts 80% of organizations will work to increase data literacy across their workforces by 2020. To begin making this change, leading software companies will begin offering these types of programs in 2018, and good user organizations will take a structured approach to increasing data literacy.
Analytics become conversational
The consumption and interaction of analytics have been focused on drag-and-drop style dashboard list boxes and/or visualization for a long time. While there continues to be value in that, increasingly there are approaches available for what can be categorized as “conversational analytics,” simplifying the analysis, findings, and storytelling, so that users more easily get to that one data point they are after. This includes techniques such as natural language query, processing, and generation, augmented by search and voice. This technology, helped by virtual assistants and chatbots through API integration, provide a new means of interaction. But it's not a one-size fits all. While out-of-the-box functionality may seem novel, the real value is in contextualizing it for a particular use case and business process.
Reporting redefined, this time highly contextualized
We realize that not everyone will want to, or have the time to, go in and explore their data in detail every time. Instead, we will see different users with varying levels of skillsets. This means that in 2018, reporting will start to become redefined through providing not just analysts, but also participants, with highly contextualized information — inverting analytics as we know it today. Rather than having to go to a destination to perform an analysis, it will come to users, embedded into the work space where people are. This means getting the right information to the right people, at the right time, in the right place, and in the right context. And in that process, many more people will be empowered with data and analytics than ever before.
Analytics become immersive
Given that the price of virtual reality devices remains a bit too steep for mainstream adoption, we are still several years away from augmented reality. The breakthroughs likely will happen in enterprise use cases, with analytics playing a role. But immersive experiences can also take on other formats where users become engaged from a sensorial and social standpoint. Through better user interfaces, large-scale displays in digital situation rooms, better storytelling with data, and collaborative features, more people will be drawn to using analytics.
Dan Sommer, Senior Director, Market Intelligence Lead, Qlik
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”