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The COVID-19 pandemic ripped up the play book for businesses across every industry globally in 2020; but with a new year comes new possibilities. The crisis was a major opportunity for organisations to revamp operations with new data management software and analytics tools inspired by exciting technology trends in the data space.

Those that took advantage of this reset will be confident in their ability to adapt to any enterprise challenge. For others, 2021 represents the chance to return to a better version of their ‘normal’. Regardless of your aims for the new year, here are four exciting technology trends that can improve your data capabilities.


The Internet of Behaviours

Predictive analytics, change data capture, data pipelines; these technical terms mask the simple truth about data, which is that it is often derived from human behaviour and used to serve our needs. The Internet of Behaviours (IoB) uses data gathered from the digital and physical world to track patterns of behaviour and influence workers’ actions.

Here’s an example. An IoB-enabled data pipeline can track the flow of information between different data suites and data silos to assess business efficiency. Workers are then informed of issues via a feedback loop to streamline processes and encourage more productive user behavior. The Business Application Research Center’s (BARC) BI Trend Monitor 2020 study shows that achieving a ‘data-driven culture’ is one of the top priorities for BI practitioners. But the true effectiveness of Internet of Behaviours software lies in its ethical use.

The growing trend for ‘smart’ data that makes our lives easier comes with the complication of potentially being used to over-monitor activities and consequently influence negative behaviour. Privacy laws, which vary across the world, will also greatly impact the scale of IoB technology adoption; but it ultimately remains an exciting prospect for the year ahead.

“Achieving a ‘data-driven culture’ is one of the top priorities for BI practitioners.”

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Data Stories

Storytelling has always been a quintessential part of the human experience. Now, in 2021, narrative is helping to transform raw data sources into actionable business insights. Modern technology trends indicate that dashboards are no longer the only way to visualise information; many BI practitioners demand data stories which explore and explain how and why information changes over time. This can help to assess data disparity between different sources or demonstrate the effect of business improvement methods. BARC’s BI Trend Monitor shows that the importance placed on data storytelling is on the rise across the data space.

While the systems used to generate narratives are central to the experience, data storytelling is first and foremost about stimulating critical thinking. No matter the analytics tools or business intelligence software used, data stories remain defined by their audience and message. Organisations that use data stories to pitch for operational changes can find that even teams outside any data function can understand a problem because they have context and a familiar narrative structure to follow. Gartner’s 2021 Top Strategic Technology Trends eBook claims that data stories will become the most widespread way of consuming analytics by 2025; looks like the data storytelling trend is only going to go from strength to strength in the future.

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Augmented Data Analytics

Data storytelling is made much simpler with the aid of another recent technology trend; augmented data analytics. Gartner’s 2021 Technology Trends eBook links 75% of data storytelling to the use of augmented analytics techniques in the near future.

This practice deploys artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning across all phases of the data cycle, from preparation to data analytics and data integration. This helps to feed into business intelligence software, allowing users to get more value from datasets and easily generate insights. At its most effective this software can also be used for predictive analytics, making it easier for analysts and data scientists to forecast the outcomes of a course of action.

Augmented data analytics offers businesses multiple benefits, including faster data preparation and visualisation (and therefore user productivity). It also increases data literacy amongst different business teams, as everyone is able to understand complex datasets simply. Finally repeated use of any augmented data analytics powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning will result in the system learning over time about how users interact with the data. This will result in more accurate suggestions based on these clues, increasing overall user trust.

“By 2024, most cloud service platforms will provide at least some distributed cloud services.”


Distributed cloud

Cloud computing has been a storage option for raw data sources for two decades. Public cloud computing – services offered by third-party providers over the public Internet – have been popular for a number of years. But 2021 could be the year in which distributed cloud steps into the limelight as the next phase of cloud services.

Distributed cloud allocates different elements of public cloud services across numerous physical locations while still centralising operations, governance and security with one provider. This enables businesses to be physically closer to their cloud-stored data and SaaS tools, reducing data costs and the risk of low latency issues. It also helps organisations to improve operations while still accommodating local data security laws. This is a particular benefit to enterprises impacted by the EU’s general data protection regulation.

Gartner’s IT Roadmap for Data and Analytics claims that by next year public cloud services will be essential for 90% of data and analytics innovation. They also say that, by 2024, most cloud service platforms will provide at least some distributed cloud services.

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These technology trends in the data space are compelling, and can be key to a strategic revamping of your business operations in 2021. However, if these technologies don’t suit your organisation’s needs or existing business intelligence software, their usefulness is marginal.

The team at Cast Solutions design data solutions and business improvement methods for enterprises based on their unique needs, not whatever the most exciting new technology trend is.

Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you make the most out of your data in 2021.

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