How Data, Analytics and AI will shape this coming year

January 13, 2021

AI and automation became essential for many business’s efforts to manage the impacts of the pandemic. How will these innovative services continue to transform business strategy this year?

At the beginning of 2020, the uptake of tools like AI and automation was increasing but at a cautious and steady rate. In just a few months, the rate of growth changed significantly. The global pandemic became a catalyst, accelerating the uptake of new services and changing business direction, including increased use of AI, Analytics and Automation.

The move to working remotely facilitated a major business change. This shift to remote work came at a time when there was a major increase in demand for additional customer service and support. As a result, AI and automation became a top priority in 2020 for many enterprises. 2020 witnessed a big increase in the use of automated chat bots, as businesses actively looked for ways to automate regular interactions or reduce the volume of manual tasks. This year we will inevitably continue to see businesses exploring ways to implement automation into their business and alleviate the pressures of customer demands and expectations. The surge of technology solutions has enabled most companies, big or small, to implement these types of services.

Another trend of 2020 that is likely to continue throughout this year is edge intelligence. Edge Intelligence refers to processes where data is collected, analysed and insights are generated close to where it is captured in a network. Today, smart edge solutions offer real-time insights by assessing data at the edge itself. Edge Intelligence is generating a lot of excitement in the industry, where AI/ML technologies come together with the cloud. Edge Intelligence enables systems to make decisions on locally generated data, instead of sending it to a centralised cloud or on-premises server. The ability to integrate AI and ML on the edge is a game-changer, according to many industry experts, because it can perform on the collected data and generate decisions before any data is moved to the cloud.

With a major shift of services to the cloud in 2020, a response that was driven more so by the impacts of the pandemic. Industry analysts believe edge intelligence will complete the shift to the cloud. Technologies such as 5G combined with artificial intelligence will only be capable of enhancing projects completed at the edge. After a year where remote working became the norm, this year seems a suitable time for edge intelligence to become more prominent.

Another trend expected throughout 2021 is the rising adoption of augmented analytics, a set of technologies that utilises machine learning to make data management and analysis simpler. For businesses, this means their workforce will be capable of effectively applying analytical tools without necessarily having to send analytics requests to data specialists. Data analysis is becoming more important in business and as a result the tools have become easier for employees to use. Technologies like this will be critical throughout 2021 to monitor and measure business performance and determine the best path and strategy to take this year.

Key trends for this year

AI Rate of Adoption

Gartner has forecasted that nearly 80% of enterprises will make a move from testing to operating AI by the end of 2024, creating a surge in streaming data and analytics infrastructure. 2021 will inevitably see many businesses make the move from testing the potential of AI, to integrating it into their performance plans.

Rise of Data Stories

Data stories will continue to become more prominent and are predicted to become the most popular way of consuming analytics by 2025. A large portion of these stories will be automated via augmented analytics. AI and ML processes are becoming more common in BI platforms. The traditional dashboard requires further manual work to determine the insights, but data stories provide the information without requiring the user to perform their analysis.

Increase in Decision Intelligence

Larger businesses will have dedicated analysts for decision intelligence, a practical service that incorporates several decision-making techniques. Decision intelligence combines conventional techniques with more advanced solutions like AI and Machine Learning.

Cloud will dominate

Public cloud services are forecast to be essential for 90% of data and analytics innovation by 2022. Cloud-based AI is forecast to reach a level five times higher by 2023 compared to 2019. This trend began before the pandemic, but the impact of Covid-19 has accelerated the rate of growth.

Integration of Data and Analytics

Gartner believes that non-analytical services to develop to incorporate analytics over the coming years. By 2023, 95% of Fortune 500 companies will include analytics governance into their wider data and analytics governance plans. By 2022, approximately 40% of machine learning development and measurement will be done with products that do not have machine learning as their primary goal. Gartner explains that analytics and BI providers are widening their data management capabilities and suggest that there will be more convergence soon.

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