Data and analytics fuels digital business and plays a major role in the future survival of organizations worldwide. However, data and analytics leaders are challenged by new legislative initiatives, such as the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as well as by the key task of evaluating and defining the role and influence of artificial intelligence (AI).
Organizations feel the urgency to embrace digital business if they want to stay relevant and competitive
Jorgen Heizenberg, research director at Gartner and conference chair for the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit, taking place 23 to 24 October in Frankfurt, outlines the current opportunities and challenges facing D&A leaders around the world.
What is the biggest challenge data and analytics leaders face today?
Data and analytics leaders have to deal with delivering business outcomes from their data-driven programs today — and at the same time build an effective data and analytics organization that is fit for tomorrow. In order to meet these challenges, such leaders need to take ownership and develop a data and analytics strategy.
The key characteristics of such a strategy are trust, robust capabilities and insights. To help data and analytics leaders craft their strategy efficiently and successfully, they must familiarize themselves with pressing topics and trends, including blockchain, AI and GDPR. They should also have a deep knowledge of how to monetize data and establish a data-driven culture in their organization.
What is the current state of data and analytics?
The current state is one of high ambition and low client maturity. In EMEA, many organizations are filled with high expectations once they ascertain the potential of data and analytics. According to the 2018 Gartner CIO Agenda, CIOs globally ranked analytics and business intelligence as the most critical technology to achieve the organization’s business goals. Naturally, data and analytics skills are the No. 1 sought-after talent.
Organizations feel the urgency to embrace digital business if they want to stay relevant and competitive. This digital transformation relies on strong data and analytics capabilities that can only be achieved if data and analytics leaders capitalize on new technologies like AI, machine learning and deep learning.
However, businesses often lack the right data and analytics organizational structure. They do not have the right resources, skills or technology to deal with the changes that a future-oriented data and analytics strategy that is focused on delivering business value brings. Technologies such as AI can take over specific routine tasks, so employees can work on more-complex problems. However, instead of automating processes and freeing up capacity for future-oriented digital projects, data and analytics leaders find themselves spending time and money on mandatory activities like compliance.
We also notice that the central IT departments get disconnected from the various business units they support. Departments like marketing, HR or sales have started to implement their own data and analytics initiatives. In fact, by 2020 the number of data and analytics experts in the business units will grow at three times the rate of the experts in IT departments. Nonetheless, IT should be involved in all data and analytics-related projects, as they bring the expertise and can ensure that all security and compliance policies are being followed.
What are the latest trends in data and analytics?
Today, we are witnessing a paradigm change — a shift from the way we manage data and analytics. On the one hand, we have an abundance of data and information available to us, and on the other hand, we lack the culture and human capabilities to properly collect, analyze and manage data. This impacts one’s ability to judge and make the right decisions for the business.
Read more: Gartner Keynote: Do You Speak Data?
In this situation, a senior executive such as a chief data officer, should take charge of the data and analytics initiative and promote data competency and literacy. The goal is to motivate every employee in the organization to become data literate. According to Gartner’s third annual CDO survey, poor data literacy is one of the biggest roadblocks to success in the CDO office. Improving data literacy across the organization will also help with other main challenges of the CDO: lack of relevant skills and reluctance to change.