Over the past few years, we’ve seen the role and use of data and analytics within business take a big step forward. For good reason. Done well, it can provide us with a new and better understanding of how we can perform better now and in the future – to transform our lives, world and businesses.
But what specifically is driving this acceleration? There are two key trends that are having the most impact.
The first is cloud.
Back in 2016, we made a calculated decision. While others were focusing on making everything look nicer with flashy visualizations, we focused our efforts on developing our cloud-first architecture and embedding capabilities that would allow customers to make decisions with data that drive real business value.
The scale of cloud acceleration amongst customers – not only those spurred on by the pandemic – confirms that it was the right decision. We are now at a point where our work with customers comes from a standpoint of cloud-first. Through our cloud platform, we can give our customers immediate access to the best new innovations to directly improve their ability to make decisions. Innovations such as Qlik Insight Advisor, which allows customers to talk to their analytics conversationally, ask questions and get answers accompanied by visual analytics and narrative insights. And the alerting capability in Qlik Sense which prompts users to take actions when the situation requires it. In the case of Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, this alerting capability is a crucial part of providing continuity of care, helping community-based professionals, like GPs and social workers, to understand when their support is required.
All underpinned by augmented analytics which uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to make it easier for business users to prepare, analyze and get insights from their data.
And the opportunity is not limited to those customers who hold their data in the cloud. We recognize that many customers work in heterogeneous environments so need to be able to extend analysis of their data to other clouds, platforms and applications. Not all customers have the ability – or inclination – to get all of their data into our cloud today or even in the future. The development of Qlik Forts – following the acquisition of NodeGraph – has made this possible. The only true hybrid cloud analytics service, Qlik Forts securely extends Qlik Sense SaaS capabilities to wherever data resides, regardless of location – on-premise, virtual private cloud or public cloud. Customers now have complete flexibility over how and where they deploy their analytics services.
The second trend is the democratization of data.
It empowers users from across the business to make well-informed business decisions, quickly. Our customers want breadth and depth across a range of analytical capabilities to allow them to bring the worlds of data producer and consumer together to drive true business value. This business value comes by putting analytics in the hands of the people that need it, when they need it, and in a format that works for them. For example, increasing the accuracy of sales forecasts to more quickly spot opportunities at risk and drive higher top-line revenues. Or staying ahead of supply chain disruptions by anticipating issues.
The cloud, of course, has been a key enabler of this unity.
Data literacy has been the other big enabler of democratization. What’s the point of having data and the insights it provides if you don’t use it as part of your decision-making process? This was the big question we asked ourselves back in 2017. And it’s been our mission ever since to raise awareness for the data literacy skills gap and to make resources available through the Data Literacy Project. Data literacy is what anchors our ability to use data and while there is still some way to go to get data literacy levels to where they need to be, it’s amazing to see the great strides that many companies and individuals have already made, for instance in BT’s #GetQualified program.
The human-machine partnership
At Qlik, we recognized early on that successful data analytics in business is a collaboration between technology and people. You can have all the cloud, AI, ML in the world implemented and embedded into your business, but without democratizing those insights across the workforce and offering data literacy upskilling to enable people to do something valuable with those insights, those technologies will only deliver a fraction of their potential. So, if you want to make data analytics mainstream throughout your business, make sure that both of these trends play their part to ensure success.