We may not have a crystal ball, but one thing is clear: data and analytics will play an important role in shaping the success of organizations in 2021. To better understand the issue, Alteryx commissioned Forrester to conduct a study investigating organizations’ key business objectives, how they currently approach data science and analytics, and the challenges and opportunities of harnessing data and analytics as a strategic business asset.
For an even deeper dive, Cinny Little, Principal Analyst at Forrester, sat down with us for a brief Q&A session to share her insights from the Opportunity Snapshot.
Looking toward 2021, why is harnessing analytics, data science, and process automation as a strategic asset more important than ever?
Answer: Now is the time for activating the transformative power of data, not just considering or experimenting. Whether a business is struggling or thriving, the rapid shifts caused by the pandemic and accompanying recession require nothing less than leveling up the entire workforce’s ability to use data and data-driven processes for decision-making that matters. To enable broad use across organizations’ roles and silos, firms must adopt a platform with targeted self-service functionalities including analytics, data science, and process automation.
What are the biggest roadblocks to infusing a culture of analytics throughout the organization?
Answer: In an advanced enterprise culture of analytics, people use data for insights that they apply to decision-making that matters, everywhere in the firm. Few firms have achieved that; all firms are working on it. The biggest roadblock to progress in that journey is people-related, not technology-related. Bottom line: more people must use more data for insights, and that means that they must change the way they work. And that requires self-service data and analytics available to all.
Answer: Two of the three top insights are people- and culture-related. The first is lack of employees with data skills sets. The second top insight is a lack of appropriate skills among business users who must use insights from data. These elements hold up firms’ growth in activating data. The third insight is that organizations using a data and analytics platform today prioritize technology that is powerful and has a wide breadth of functionality; is flexible, supports a breadth of data sources and publishing to multiple outputs; is easy to use for a broad base of employees; and is cost effective.
What was the most surprising finding in the survey?
Answer: The most surprising finding: nearly two-thirds of organizations reported that they spend more on data and analytics during economic downswings (although this, of course, depends on the nature of the downturn). That’s a key indicator that firms understand that data and analytics have become essential both to thriving in a period of rapid change and supporting recovery in difficult times.
Embedding data-driven decision-making into the organization is a means to an end, not an end in itself. What is the ultimate goal for organizations embarking on an analytics-led digital transformation?
Answer: The ultimate goal is achieving the critical business benefits: revenue, cost efficiency, and keeping ahead of customers and markets. To achieve these benefits, firms must take a converged approach to analytics, data science, and process automation accompanied by purposeful focus on upskilling the workforce and embedding a culture of data and analytics across the organization.