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With the new year approaching, we bring you the key trends to watch and prepare for in 2021 and beyond.

2020 has been a year of acceleration. The global pandemic has forced many to adapt and adopt ideas that have been resisted for a long time.

We predict the changes are here to stay and will continue to impact the way data leaders work in 2021 and beyond.

To help you stay on top of the data trends in 2021, the team at Data Leaders have put together a list of data and analytics predictions for next year and beyond.

1. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will gain momentum 

Surprisingly today, very few organisations reap the benefits of data-driven process optimisation. However, using data to improve internal processes can and will have a huge impact on the bottom line of the businesses. According to McKinsey, 50% of current processes can be improved by applying analytics and automation. We believe that data driven process optimisation will become the biggest value of data in 2021 and beyond. 

2. Decision making will become more prescriptive 

Many in the data intelligence community have been trying to boost data-driven decision making. Today, data and analytics leaders still try to ensure the right data is available to support decision making. They try to improve the quality of data and create one version of the truth 

But even with the right data, a lot of decisions made by humans today are still wrong or too slow. In some ways, machines make better decisions, and it’s discussed by Daniel Kahnemann in his book Thinking Fast and Slow. Prescriptive decisions will become more and more the norm. 

3. CEOs will have to transform to the CDOs of their companies 

Whilst many companies proclaim they are on a path to becoming data-centric, many senior leaders and CEOs lack the understanding of what it really means. More importantly, they don’t understand the leap needed to make it a reality. This gap leaves data teams struggling.  

Some Chief Data Officers believe they should become the CEOs. We suggest the opposite – CEOs should look to become CDOs. They must spend time learning about what it really takes to become data-centric, and what technology is required to get there. If we look at big disruptors, these are people who understand data: Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates… They have a strong grasp of what data is and what is needed to manage it. 

4. Data governance will be automated 

Data governance can be difficult. A lot of organisations have tried and failed, falling into the trap of trying to boil the ocean (doing too much). It can take years to set up a good data governance practice. Not surprisingly, by the time data governance is in place and the right use cases are starting to appear, the rest of the organisation has lost faith.  

AI can now do many things we’ve been asking humans to define. How we do Master Data Management today can be defined, simplified and automated by AI. We predict many data lifecycles will soon be managed with very little human intervention. 

5. Data enrichment will become the new oil refinery 

Organisations are still struggling to tackle their own data, with many only utilising 50% of their capacity. We think companies that are truly data-centric will benefit the most from data enrichment – buying data, exchanging data, or using more data from open sources. This will boost the power of data, and it will improve the efficiency of the business. 

6. Legacy businesses will spin off their data capacity in order to survive 

A large number of big legacy businesses will realise solving the problems of their internal culture and shortage of skills will take too much time and effort. In order to remain competitive and in some cases, simply survive, these companies will have to spin off the whole data function in order to transform the company. It will only be possible, however, if there is a very strong mandate from the CEO (see prediction no 2.) 

7. Video call deals are here to stay – and credibility will be more important than ever 

The unprecedented shift towards remote working and deal making seen this year is here to stay. As location carries less importance, we are seeing more investments and business transitions happening across borders – over video. We predict this will continue to increase in 2021, and as the barriers to engage with providers over borders will be reduced, the need for genuine credibility that can be endorsed and proven will increase. 

How are you preparing for 2021? What are your own predictions? We discuss this and many other subjects in our vendor-free, invite-only community. Request to join today. 


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