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The crisis as a driver of digitization: Five important BI and data trends for 2021

The effects of the Corona pandemic have hit most companies completely unexpectedly and changed them permanently. But the need for change and further development also brings many opportunities and innovations – also in the BI and data world. Find out what trends are emerging – driven by the crisis – for the year 2021.

Companies should always take care to stay technologically up-to-date and adaptable. In order to master crises like the current pandemic, companies should therefore react as efficiently as possible and act with foresight. To support the new digital requirements, a number of trends are already emerging in the BI area. These focus in particular on the rapidly increasing relevance of cloud software, data that is as up-to-date as possible and shared information and collaboration in analysis.

Software-as-a-Service on the rise – also in the BI area

Whereas many companies still rejected cloud and online solutions in the past, a large proportion discarded their reservations last year. This was the only way for many companies to maintain daily operations at all during the crisis – even though in a virtual way. Most companies have now recognized the many advantages (e.g. greater scalability and flexibility as well as faster access to new technologies such as Augmented Analytics) of using SaaS products. The use also no longer requires an in-house-infrastructure and often offers increased performance and cost reduction. In order to remain crisis-proof, the relevance of cloud products and services will therefore continue to increase in the coming year.

Data quality and up-to-dateness more important than ever

The demand for high-quality real-time data has rarely been higher than in the current situation. Especially in a crisis, up-to-date information is more important than ever, for example, to keep supply chains running. Quarterly business forecasts, which may have been the norm in many companies in the past, are no longer of much use in times like these. Instead, businesses need to be able to respond immediately to changing situations and requirements through rapidly delivered data (ideally with up-to-date business logic and context). Experts are already talking about a trend towards Active Intelligence, which enables companies to act preactively, e.g. by automatically triggering processes on the basis of data.

Interest in shared data and visualizations on the rise among the masses

As a result of the Corona pandemic, the use of daily data in the media and news has jumped up in the past year. The entire public – including private households – suddenly showed keen interest in the latest information and visualizations around current case counts and trends. Data storytelling and meaningful infographics are thus becoming increasingly important to sustainably build and strengthen data literacy even among “non-experts”. To this end, companies will also have to upgrade technically and implement a context expansion via broader data models and more business logic (e.g. via data catalogs and marketplaces).

Interest in shared data and visualizations on the rise among the masses

Also due to the fact that more and more employees are working from home as a result of the crisis, a certain degree of self-sufficiency in viewing and analyzing data is becoming more relevant. Users may need to be able to generate the insights they need without help (e.g. through an intuitive and simple user interface) or to retrieve key insights prebuilt. The sooner more users in the value chain can access relevant information independently, the earlier and better it will be possible to respond to potential deviations and conflicts. Nevertheless, smooth collaboration between individual parties – for example, data management and data analysis – remains an important success factor.

External data gaining relevance

The past few months have proven, how important it can be to include external, “alternative” data in analyses. Crisis situations always illustrate the value of information that might normally not be included in day-to-day analyses. In this way, specific anomalies can be uncovered early and be used to resolve conflicts. The interplay of multiple data and the relationships between them are thus becoming more and more the basis of modern analyses. According to experts, in the coming years, AI-based video, audio, text and other content analyses will be crucial for important innovations and changes in companies.

In addition to the trends listed, the BI and data world is also constantly evolving in other areas. Topics such as Data Governance, Embedded Analytics, Data Management or modern technologies such as Augmented Intelligence and Alerting also remain current.

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