Looking Ahead: 2021 Predictions From the Alteryx Leadership Team

With 2020 in our rearview mirror, many of us are looking forward to moving full steam ahead, leaving behind the tremendous challenges and hurdles we’ve endured over the past year. While these unforeseen events — affecting virtually every industry and sector — won’t necessarily go away overnight, the analytics community has much to prepare for and look forward to in 2021. 

As businesses look for ways to insulate themselves from future shock, our seasoned executives are here to help you understand how societal and economic trends have and will impact the industry, and what to expect this year. 

The following predictions and practical advice from the Alteryx leadership team can help your organization stay ahead of the curve and tackle anything that 2021 throws your way. 
 

The Overwhelming Importance of Upskilling

Upskilling will play a bigger role in every corporate culture

While it’s always important for companies to offer training to employees, the data science field and digital transformation are challenging companies to break the mold and deliver new and constantly evolving ways to upskill and deliver ROI. More and more, we’re going to see upskilling programs that help people learn and apply skills in real-time. Hackathons are one example of how this is happening currently in many companies. 

“We’re going to see an expansion of these and other on-the-job experiences that use real data and real problems with a goal of creating real value. Data science has evolved to the point where people don’t need to go back to college to learn, they’ll learn on the job by encountering new tools and technologies.” 

– Alan Jacobson, Chief Data & Analytics Officer (CDAO)

It will become more crucial than ever to upskill the global workforce

One obvious trend that will continue through 2021 is businesses further expanding their investment in upskilling employees as the virtual work environment continues. Specifically, as it relates to data literacy. 

“To truly accomplish this, first companies must liberate their data and make it accessible to the everyday worker who is curious and willing to challenge the status quo. Second, the same technologies that enable answers to arise from the context of the question must amplify the skills of the user. What we’ll ultimately see is a surge in code-free and code-friendly platforms as the key for upskilling the workforce to drive long term growth and success in digital transformation.” 

—Dean Stoecker, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of the Board

The Ever-Evolving Future of Work 

New leadership techniques must emerge to manage remote workforces

The lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt long after this threat to public health has passed. The changes that we’ll see in the year to come offer a clear look at how the nature of work is set to be changed forever. What we do will not change, but where work is conducted will continue to evolve. Despite what some industry leaders are saying about being excited to get back to the office, I don’t anticipate a return to the status quo. Now, the challenge for leaders will be the way we engage the workforce to continue to innovate, collaborate, and optimally execute for the benefit of customers. 

“I believe an over-reliance on machines and technology rather than human face-to-face interaction will lead to a more disconnected workforce that struggles to find its purpose. Tomorrow’s leaders must be prepared to meet these challenges head on and keep employees happy, productive, and innovative.” 

—Dean Stoecker, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of the Board 

Zero-trust security will become the new normal

The work-from-anywhere concept has created an interesting opportunity for CISOs to consider strategic approaches for managing non-traditional security risks. To accommodate this shift, we’ll see corporate security departments expanding the perimeter into associates’ homes to ensure that cyber risks are not unknowingly introduced into the corporate network. In 2021, we’ll see CISOs working with HR, further pushing to increase each associate’s cyber awareness to proactively recognize and report related risks, meaning that “zero-trust security” will be the new standard methodology for supporting associates working remotely. 

“CISOs must adopt this model as it improves secure access to corporate resources through continuous assessment and intent-based authentication policies. Furthermore, Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections must become a default setting to increase protections for associates requiring remote access.”  

—Billy Spears, Chief Information Security Officer 

2021 predictions

The Value of Data Democratization

Citizen analysts will increasingly upskill to become data scientists

The growing complexity of most industries and companies also means that once we see self-reliance in terms of developing IT processes or using analytics, there will quickly be a huge push to expand that skillset further. 

“With the market erratically changing from month to month there will be a much greater emphasis placed on data science than ever before. This, in turn, will drive more citizen analysts to upskill to become data scientists.” 

—Sharmila Mulligan, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer 

In the future, employee engagement will depend heavily on bringing more employees into the data fold

There have been many drawbacks to the new work environment created by COVID-19, but in the remote work set-up, speed of insight has been increased as employees feel empowered and are able to accomplish more while getting to insights faster than before. In other words, data democratization has and will continue to spur better questions and new thinking as employees are uplifted. 

“The more access to data that workers have, the better questions they will be able to ask, the more complex problems they will be able to solve – and not have to work so hard to do so.” 

—Olivia Duane Adams, Co-Founder and Chief Advocacy Officer 

The Need for Speed: Faster Insights

Analytics pros will find creative ways around budget cuts

A recent report by Gartner indicated a decrease in spending for data and analytics in 2020. This is a misstep as now more than ever it is important to get the greatest possible productivity out of employees. 

“To compensate, analytics professionals will focus on consuming IT capabilities from companies that they know and trust. They’ll look to larger enterprises that are known entities vs emerging players. With such tight budgets, there is no room to risk working with an unproven partner.”

—Derek Knudsen, Chief Technology Officer 

Increased buyer sophistication and demand for greater automation

If nothing else, the past six months has crystalized the acute need and significant challenges companies face when they have disparate legacy systems in place. This is pushing companies to innovate faster than ever before. 

“Moving forward, we’ll see smarter and more sophisticated infrastructure purchases, with companies demanding fewer vendors, less complexity and much greater automation. This will have a marked impact across industries in 2021.”
 
—Mark Anderson, Chief Executive Officer 

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