Business is a lot like sports. You build the best team possible and put them out on the field of play with what you hope is a winning strategy. But, as Sir Alex Ferguson once famously said, ‘part of the pursuit of excellence involves eliminating as many surprises as possible because life is full of the unexpected’. The point being that things change, and sometimes you need to adapt your strategy to win out.
In recent years, adapting to a never-ending cascade of challenges and crises has been the standard, not the exception for businesses. But adapting to new realities and taking control of new opportunities is only becoming more vital, and every once in a while it is important for businesses to reflect on, assess, and improve how they adjust to change.
In sports, this adjustment may involve tactical changes or substitutions. In the realm of business, it revolves around making informed decisions based on available data. And with most businesses now driven by technology, the amount of data in the world is growing exponentially. There were around 4.4 zettabytes of data being held globally in 2013, but some estimates have that rising to a mind-boggling 181 zettabytes of data created by 2025.
This immense and ever-growing data mountain poses a significant hurdle for businesses striving for enterprise agility. How can you possibly stay flexible in your operations and decision making without getting to grips with that data?
Director & Solutions Architect at OpenText.
The rise of big data and AI powered analytics to the fore
Data proliferation shows no signs of slowing down, emphasizing the need for businesses to proactively adapt their approaches to data storage, protection, and utilization. Crucially, the way that companies enable their employees to access and derive insights from vast datasets must become more seamless. It’s pretty much impossible to manually process and assess such vast reams of information, so automated analytics will become essential to unlocking the value of data going forward.
Analytics isn’t new – far from it. But the tools of even the very recent past didn’t have the kind of scalability that’s now required. New levels of volume and new types of data are being created at breath-taking speed, so for businesses to stay competitive, they’re going to need tools that have that inherent elasticity and growth built in.
It’s important to shine a light on the different types of analytics tools which can make data analysis ready, such as descriptive, diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive methods. In particular, AI-powered analytics tools are having a moment right now, and will surely get faster, smarter, and more accurate as their training datasets grow. But these kinds of analytics tools are no longer just a consideration for the future.
Take the manufacturing industry, for example. AI has been fused with analytics to enable manufacturing companies to build a big-picture view of all their data, whether structured or unstructured, historical, or real-time. This is then pulled together into actionable insights to inform the delivery of advanced manufacturing processes like smart factories, digital twins, and autonomous supply chains.
Manufacturing companies can use these tactics to avoid their plans being derailed by the proverbial punch in the mouth. Digital twins can be used to simulate various scenarios and companies can adapt their plans based on the outcome of any number of simulations without having to wait for something to go wrong.
And there’s no reason why other industries can’t reap the rewards too. AI powered analytics can be used to optimize risk management in finance or personalize customer offerings in retail, to name just two of countless use cases. Now that we’re in the world of big data, powerful analytics will come to the fore in a big way, across the spectrum of business.
Making agility central to business strategy
These are all key discussion points that should remain on the agenda for businesses. AI powered analytics should be a central component of any business’s broader agility strategy and deployed with the aim of putting the business of a future-proofed footing.
Leveraging AI powered analytics to deliver actionable insights exactly when they’re needed may not help us to predict the future exactly, but it’s crucial to long-term success as data continues to explode in volume and type.
Just as sports teams or individuals must adapt in-game, choosing when to go on the attack or when to shore up the defense, so businesses must be tactically agile. The most famous managers and players in any sport seem to have an almost divine ability to succeed, but really, they’re just making phase-of-play decisions based on informed tactical analysis and experience. That analysis and ability to adapt to changeable circumstances is what lies behind their success.
Businesses must become similarly agile or get left behind. Whether keeping data secure from cyber-attacks or improving customer experiences, agility is at the core of all business priorities. It’s the right moment for us to spark a tangible shift if how we approach the future – and AI powered analytics will be at the heart of it.
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Gareth Hutchins is Director & Solutions Architect at OpenText.