We attended this month’s Big Data LDN conference, where over 100 leading vendors and service providers from Britain’s thriving data analytics industry were exhibiting. Below, we explore some of the key themes that surfaced in both seminars and conversations.
Data literacy and governance
There is an increasing urgency in the search for skilled data analysts and the current shortage has resulted in a growing willingness for business leaders to outsource their data analytics challenges to third party providers. Indeed, British businesses are now spending between 0.5-0.7% of revenue on data analytics projects.
Meanwhile, as the strategic importance of effective data management becomes more widely recognized, the C-suite is increasingly shouldering the responsibility for data management directly, rather than allowing it to rest with company IT departments.
The limits of automation – the robots aren’t taking over after all, at least not for a while…
Yet for all the urgency surrounding the topic of data analytics, and the hype surrounding buzzwords like AI, Machine Learning, Neural Networks, Deep Learning et cetera, there is a growing understanding and acceptance of the practical limits of different data analytics technologies.
This is starting to play out in the way vendors are marketing themselves: there has been a shift away from an emphasis on the power of Artificial Intelligence, and towards that of so-called Augmented Intelligence, in recognition of the key role that the human mind will still play in all but the most prosaic of business decisions.
Plethora of solutions – integration challenge
Analytics solutions are not just limited in their power to replace humans, they are also limited in the breadth of their functionality: The commercial environment is too dynamic and complex for any single analytics solution to do more than resolve a limited number of challenges. This means that:
a. There are (and will continue to be) thousands of niche analytical solutions to specific marketing, operational and financial challenges.
b. The data analytics ecosystem is (and is likely to remain) extremely fragmented
c. The typical analytical tech stack is unlikely to get any smaller.
As such, business leaders need to develop an integrated, coherent approach to firm-wide data analytics strategy, and ensure that the tech stack is developed with a mind on cost efficiency and simplicity.