Analytics SMBtech

Navigating the permacrisis through decision intelligence

The global economy is transforming through new technology, and every forward-thinking company is in the midst of a digital transformation. The word “permacrisis” was recently ranked as the Collins Dictionary “word of the year”, and – ultimately – there could have been no better choice to explain the numerous unprecedented crises faced by business leaders over the past couple of years.

Given the sheer volume of data decision-makers now need to wrangle, it’s no surprise businesses are also moving towards a world of unprecedented and automated data analytics potential. Time to insight is now the critical strategic business transformation imperative for companies that want to access the decision intelligence required to “see around corners” and thrive.

While businesses are moving towards a world of unprecedented data-driven insight potential, adopting technology alone is not enough to exploit the available data. More impactful insights can be delivered when employees without a background in data science – the workers closest to the problem – are empowered to produce insights from data. While we cannot turn all accountants into data scientists, nor would they want to be, we can certainly help them become more digitally enabled data-driven decision-makers. After all, it is far easier to teach an accountant some data analytics skills than to teach a data scientist the accounting rules.

The analytic enablement and empowerment of people to solve their own problems is becoming mission-critical for business leaders. Unfortunately, many industries still underutilize their available analytics intelligence and depend on a smaller pool of highly skilled data science professionals. But strategic decision intelligence can be generated at scale.

The importance of data literacy and analytics for all

The importance of data-driven decisions cannot be overestimated. Still, a gap exists for many businesses between data use and the people it serves, limiting its use to leaders, high-level decision-makers, and select stakeholders. Technology is a great enabler and has the potential to disrupt the norm, but data intelligence’s full potential comes from developing a culture that enables and facilitates the use of data and analytics in the decision-making process. Only by empowering all employees, irrespective of technological experience, to access inter-departmental analytics can businesses democratise data-driven decisions.

A lack of data transparency and accessible analytics leaves most staff underserved and insufficient information to support their business decisions. A data-literate workforce empowered to utilise technology to squeeze every ounce of strategic and operational insight from their data to drive business outcomes supports broader business goals. Rather than waiting for the talent market to catch up to the business need, business leaders should make it easy for all employees to make data-driven decisions.

Findings from our 2023 State of Cloud Analytics Report uncovered that cloud analytics will be an enterprise imperative for businesses thriving in 2023. Almost four out of five (81%) respondents expect cloud analytics to have a positive impact on managing economic uncertainty. Cloud-based analytics platforms not only provide a high degree of flexibility and agility, but they also provide innate support for real-time data and analytics collaboration. All of which provide the entire organisation with a full, transparent, inter-department view of business data and the starting point for increased decision literacy.

The insight-driven mindset can make strides in a business’s growth and provide the much-needed edge over its competitors. Companies will have teams of eager people with the necessary skills to share and knowledge to drive change throughout their business. With decisions backed by data and driven by analytics, decision-making will not only be efficient but also reliable and logical – with higher chances of delivering actionable insights.

Upskilling as an alternative to hiring

The best technology in the world can’t help you create effective change if your people aren’t on board and capable of exploiting it to deliver value. If organisations do not have data-literate employees, business leaders need to empower them and equip them with the right skills. Companies that recognise this will lead the charge by upskilling – and reskilling – all employees and creating a culture of data literacy where anyone can leverage data for strategic decision-making without relying exclusively on skilled data workers. Those who fail to take these steps will quickly fall behind the competition.

Given the rapidly evolving markets, disruptions, economic shifts, and unpredictable business crises, the fastest way to democratise decision intelligence is through self-service or cloud-based data analytics solutions that everyone can access. Cloud-based analytics’ most significant potential impact comes from operationalising cloud data for competitive insights and delivering data-driven decision-making at scale by providing an easy-to-use interface via any web browser. Democratising the ability for everyone, anywhere, anytime, and on any machine across the enterprise can build easy-to-use workflows to prepare, blend, and analyse data to drive better outcomes.

Impact on business outcomes with decision intelligence

Data-driven decision intelligence is a stabiliser across all industries, so businesses have much to gain from a data-literate workforce. Despite the growing importance of analytics in decision-making, many leaders face the common challenge of bringing their teams and data together to make data-driven decisions. Self-service low-code/no-code platforms can play a crucial role in this process by enabling users with little to no programming experience to create and use analytics tools to make speedier, more informed decisions based on data.

Organisations can also use data intelligence solutions such as cloud-based analytics to accelerate the democratisation of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Data science and AI are inextricably intertwined. Accessible, self-service analytics and automation technologies are a force multiplier – a way to help businesses go further on their AI journey – enabling them to deliver actionable insights without relying on manual analysis. Apart from reducing the workload, making data more usable, and minimising human intervention, the automation of analytics processes can help to analyse fast-evolving market trends in real time. Delivering the ability to accurately predict future business scenarios, prepare for adversities, and invest in the right growth opportunities.

Why react to the unexpected when you can see, predict, and solve before it happens? With new challenges emerging almost daily, business decision-makers need to unlock the power of data-driven decision intelligence. A data-driven mindset can take time but is a valuable investment for delivering the insights needed at the speed and scale required to navigate increased economic and competitive uncertainty.

Paul Baptist is VP – Solution Engineering, APJ at Alteryx.

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