Top 5 Trends In Business Analytics For 2021

Posted by Albers School of Business and Economics on Monday, October 25, 2021 at 9:16 PM PDT

Cartoon of two people at computers connected to a server, plugging into a cloud


The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 clearly shook up the world of business and commerce. Faced with unprecedentedly rapid digital transformation, increasing functional interdependencies, and growing data sources, data and analytics have never been more critical to helping individuals and organizations make decisions and tackle the market chaos. And though the virus’ lingering after-effects are still on everyone’s minds, there has still been a tremendous amount of progress made in 2021.

Every business wants to leverage every bit of information available in order to make timely, informed decisions that positively impact their bottom line, improve productivity, and accelerate growth. To do this, professionals must consider and familiarize themselves with the business analytics trends that are shaping every industry moving forward.

Keeping this in mind, we have examined five key trends in business analytics for 2021.

Whether your business has only just started on their digital journey or is already leveraging business analytics tools and insights into your organizational management, these trends can help organizations deal with disruptive change, radical uncertainty, and the transformative opportunities they bring.

1: Data Storytelling Will Be The New Business Narrative

Today’s businesses are working with an overload of data. Specifically, after reaching 64.2 zettabytes in 2020, over the next five years, global data creation is projected to grow to more than 180 zettabytes.

But turning all this data into insights is easier said than done, and putting those insights into action is even harder. Simply collecting this data is not enough and dashboards alone cannot guide a business and uncover insights if they are not accurately analyzed, contextualized, and interpreted.

Data storytelling is the methodology for communicating the critical information in your data analysis and using it to share a compelling narrative. It’s essentially giving your data a voice.

As businesses look to move and compete in this competitive landscape, it is critical that leaders draw insights from complex data and use analytics to tell effective stories that impact business strategy by making data more accessible and, therefore, more valuable.

Data storytelling will continue to shape how organizations interact with their business intelligence, progressively changing the way these organizations use data and analytics and nurture conversions about how they inform outcomes and objectives.

2: Data And Analytics Are Moving To The Cloud

More than just a buzzword, most anyone in the business arena can attest to the fact that virtually every business tool is moving to the cloud. While originally built predominantly for transactional purposes, cloud technology is getting faster, smarter, and more flexible.

Consequently, more organizations have begun moving their data warehouses into the cloud, which ultimately means that BI tools (i.e., data models, data sources, computing power, data storage, and analytics models) are all destined for the cloud as well. According to Gartner, public cloud services will be essential for 90 percent of data and analytics innovation by 2022.

While this opens up a great number of opportunities for businesses, there will also be important challenges to address, such as security and the ability to manage workloads at scale across multiple platforms. This means that data and analytics leaders need to be prepared to plan and execute a connected cloud strategy in order to remedy the associated risks and costs and bring flexibility so their company can realize the potential benefits and grow more agile.

3: The Evolution Of The Chief Data Officer

As companies continue to evolve beyond simply technology-centric to data-driven, and move from siloed data strategies to embedding data and analytics into overarching business strategy and results, the role of Chief Data Officer (CDO) will become increasingly important.

No longer will the CDO be a defensive role, primarily responsible for governance and regulation, but instead an offensive role that, through data utilization, can offer their organizations increased efficiencies, revenue growth, innovation, and data literacy.

Sitting at the intersection of business and technology, CDOs are exceptional at generating value and are key to building foundational data and analytics competencies within the organization, better positioning that organization for competitive success. The role is also vital for defining and fostering a data-driven culture where there is a strategic alignment around what goals and outcomes are important across the organization and clear articulation of how data and analytics can help drive those outcomes.

CDOs that leverage this new emphasis on business analytics and invest in the tools, techniques, and talent will steer their organizations towards success while building robust roadmaps, both from lessons learned in 2020 and looking ahead to future opportunities.

4: Data Democracy

While the interdepartmental lines have certainly begun to blur where data utilization is concerned, we are truly entering a golden age of data-empowerment. Data is no longer housed solely within the IT department’s domain, and analytics are no longer only accessible by C-Suite leaders nor shared exclusively with specific departments.

In 2021, we will see an increased effort from organizations into seamlessly integrating data platforms; this includes the use of state-of-the-art analytics tools to visualize data across the organization and increase transparency around complex problems and business results to best apply the latest analytics trends to the business’s advantage.

With the advancement in business technology, companies are deploying self-service business analytics and business intelligence tools to empower employees at every level to identify patterns in data, determine context, and collaborate effectively with other team members to realize the maximum value provided by gleaned insights. This approach to organization-wide business analytics offers the increased level of agility demanded by today’s advancing business environment, allowing those companies to leverage the full value of their multiplying data channels and volumes.

5: Automated AI Analytics

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has long been the topic of conversation in business, and has taken virtually every business aspect by storm, and business analytics is no exception.

As AI technology matures, processing vast quantities of data faster than humans, the technology offers a unique perspective in business analytics and makes it easier to discover insights that might have gone previously unnoticed.

The potential of this technology to augment human intelligence by revolutionizing the way we interact with business data and analytics means businesses can’t afford to fall behind or play catchup. Data classification and modeling will continue to get even more automated which, in turn, will result in even more accurate and actionable insights to drive business decision-making.

Gartner forecasts that 75 percent of enterprises will shift from piloting to operationalizing AI by the end of 2024, driving a 5x increase in streaming data and analytics infrastructures. This increase in sophistication, a convergence of AI and BI, will help businesses stay ahead of the competition (if they are able to pick up on the trend early enough to take full advantage).

Albers’ Eyes Are On The Future

With virtually all industries facing significant shifts, leaders must stay abreast of the latest data and analytics developments for future business success.

Albers School of Business and Economics is dedicated to educating and preparing the adaptive business leaders of tomorrow by bridging the gap between theoretical analysis and its practice. Students can build and apply the in-demand skills of data-driven leaders, staying at the forefront during an exciting time in the evolution of business.

By earning your business analytics degree, not only can you learn to effectively communicate your findings and recommended courses of action to steer your organization forward, but also train on state-of-the-art business analytics tools and techniques to interpret and translate complex data into critical insights and game-changing business solutions.

Hone your expertise and set yourself apart through fundamental skills and cutting edge business knowledge that will equip you to spreadhead analytics-led, innovative thinking in today's organizations.

We look forward to paving the way with you.