Understanding the analytical trends to watch for in 2021


This is usually the time of year we reflect on what was and think about what is to come. I think we can all agree that 2020 has been quite the experience with things like social distancing, lockdown, and the pandemic becoming part of popular discourse. As organisations embrace remote working and the associated digital technologies as part of the ‘new normal’, data will become even more important than ever.

On my virtual travels, I recently came across this fascinating industry article on Analytics Insight that examines the top trends in big data analytics for 2021. The author suggests that these will be instrumental in helping organisations anticipate customer needs and help them achieve their goals while differentiating themselves in the market. Naturally, I wanted to share my views.

Actionable data

I could not agree more about the importance of actionable data. Ultimately, data must result in outcomes that improve the business performance. We can generate the most amazing big data analytics, but if the company cannot act on it strategically it is not worth much.

Accessible data

Another big one on the agenda list. I still believe that only those businesses that are well organised will be able to extract value from data lakes. Potentially, a data lake is meaningless if its contents is not meticulously catalogued.

Big Data in climate change

This is a trend not many would have predicted a few years ago. However, as a part-time permaculturist, I find it fascinating to see climate change finally become part of the big data agenda. While there is significant research and practical applications that can be done, the question must turn to where the funding will come from to do so effectively.

Database as a Service (DBaaS)

This merely continues the in-cloud storage aspects which many organisations are already aware of. But companies must study the fine print to ensure they fully understand what they are letting themselves in for. Elements such as costs, privacy, and access speeds are critically important. This is where service level agreements become crucial to provide the necessary structure in meeting service expectations.

Continuous intelligence

This is an extension of real-time and streaming analytics. Looking ahead continuous intelligence will become the norm as companies must act fast due to changing market conditions. Simply put, this is a critical component if proactive measures are to be implemented that deliver better data value.

Cleaner data

I cannot stress the importance of this trend too much. ‘Garbage in, garbage out’ holds true in this data-driven world. If a company has poor quality data, then it cannot hope to achieve true data insights based on an integrated understanding of the information available.

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

This is a crucial field of both study and application. I always preach to my post-grad students about textual disambiguation. It comes down to turning the wealth of unstructured text into structured data before any analytics can be done on it. Apart from sentiment analysis of course.

Regardless of these trends, the New Year will bring with it many exciting data challenges that we as specialists must be able to overcome. It is not only our livelihoods but also those of our clients that depend on it!

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