As 2022 draws to a close, we can say with certainty that it was a momentous year with events that will continue to shape our lives in new ways, from the James Webb Space Telescope capturing images of supermassive black holes to the fusion energy breakthrough, and everything in between.
With the new year upon us, Adastra is looking back at some of this year’s key events and their impact both on our lives and in data and analytics. Below are a few key highlights, as well as our predictions for 2023.
2022 Data and Analytics Trends
The Fragility of Our Supply Chains
As the world began to emerge from COVID-19 lockdowns and mask mandates were lifted, there was an increase in demand for products and services across the board. This reactive, pent-up demand, in addition to the War in Ukraine, dramatically highlighted the fragility of our supply chains resulting in shock waves across the energy sector and a rapid rise in inflation. To help address some of these issues, organizations turned to analytics and AI/ML to help strengthen their supply chain. Adastra has seen a surge in organizations accelerating their investments in data and analytics to prepare against future impacts to supply chains.
Workforce Shortages, Skyrocketing Salaries and the “Great Resignation”
To say that we have been seeing workforce challenges across sectors and skill sets is an understatement. Talent shortages, resignations, and escalating salary costs all continued to impact organizations in 2022. The data and analytics space has not been immune, with organizations struggling to staff key roles.
While roles are difficult to fill, successful organizations continue to invest in data and analytics to extract more value against increasing talent acquisition costs. Organizations are leveraging their data to help automate, analyze, forecast, understand and plan for demand, allocate resources and acquire customers. Those that have invested in skills and technology related to data and analytics have seen a greater internal return on investment than organizations that chose to focus on investing in other areas of their business model. The mindset shift has moved from investments in data and analytics being a nice to have to a priority.
Organizations across industries have also been taking advantage of global delivery models and offshore resources to minimize the impact of workforce shortages.
The Emergence of Data Mesh and Data Fabric Frameworks
Adastra has seen an uptick in data mesh and data fabric use in organizations to break down silos, minimize IT bottlenecks and democratize data. These concepts are evidence of an evolution to data governance frameworks, which are quickly becoming the norm in high-performing organizations.
Both data mesh and data fabric treat data domains as products. The difference resides in the underlying technical architecture and organizational approach to the data domains. However, in both cases, personal accountability is assigned to teams of domain experts who maintain the quality and make data available across organizations.
The aim of both frameworks is to enable organizations to gain agility through sharing and promoting data across their organization in addition to standardization, discoverability, scalability, quality, security, speed to delivery, and data re-usability. These approaches take a more democratic approach to data governance as opposed to more centralized autocratic structures which may have pushed organizations away from data governance programs.
Productionalization of AI/ML Solutions
In recent years, organizations have been dipping their toes in the AI/ML waters, with many leveraging innovative algorithms to solve complex projects. However, in 2022, AI/ML solutions became more mainstream, and they continue to revolutionize organizations across industries. Adastra has been working with government agencies such as SCALE AI to help fund the productionalization of AI/ML use cases.
Common AI use cases include automating repeatable, mundane tasks to free up organizations’ time to focus on innovation and business growth, as well as uncovering latent insights to drive better decision-making and personalize customer experiences. Adastra also works with organizations to implement a broad range of AI solutions including paperless production floors for manufacturers, intelligent search, and virtual assistants, among others.
Low-code and no-code platforms are increasingly gaining popularity. Organizations are evolving their “Data-Driven Decision” roadmaps to “Data Democratization” programs. Essentially, both enable end users to access and manipulate the data they need to create value across their organization. However, in the latter, organizations are turning to low-code and no-code platforms to accelerate their democratization programs. These tools are designed to access and transform data with a limited need for technical expertise.
This has had the dramatic effect of increasing organizational agility and innovation. The value to organizations is greatly increased when governance programs (i.e., data governance, platform governance, etc.) are also implemented as part of the low-code/no-code deployments.
These platforms are excellent at helping organizations ideate and develop use cases, however, more complex and production-ready use cases do require the additional help of experts for migration to production.
Following COVID-19 shutdowns, great customer experience was seen as a competitive advantage and became a new Board-level KPI across industries. Many organizations took steps to invest in advanced CRMs and marketing automation engines to help with the coordination and development of improved customer experiences. Organizations that did particularly well combined their investments in such platforms with a data governance framework to ensure high-quality data to deliver on differentiated customer experiences.
Adastra's 2023 Outlook
The headline dominating the last part of 2022 was the continuous chatter about economic headwinds, if those headwinds were going to come and, if so, how strong. It is with this backdrop that we present what we believe to be the most important factors organizations need to consider, irrespective of the prevalence of economic headwinds.
Data security is the top subject and most pressing concern facing business leaders in 2023. The constant threat of breaches can be paralyzing for some. Organizations can also disproportionately invest in protecting their data estates with the unexpected outcome of slowing down the internal access to information or even make it challenging to access. The best approach forward will be for organizations to implement the right level of security to safeguard the organization’s resources while concurrently preventing organizational stagnancy or impediments to data access. The best foot forward in early 2023 is for organizations to assess their current data security and implement the right solutions.
Modern Architecture and Continued Investment
Organizations that have been early adopters to cloud technologies have seen a shift in their abilities to extract value from their data. Indeed, organizations will continue to invest in cloud and cloud technologies vs. maintaining their legacy environments which continue to require heavy maintenance with fewer skilled workers to maintain those environments.
While organizations that have moved to cloud environments are satisfied with their progress and the value they are extracting, there is concern that their peers and competitive sets are doing much better at leveraging data to drive their business. We anticipate that organizations will increase their investments and take advantage of automation, data science and advanced analytics. In addition, organizations will be looking for assistance with cloud computing costs to free up funds to do more.
Meanwhile, for maintaining legacy environments or advancing modern architecture agendas, organizations agree that the scarcity of qualified resources will also continue. On the one hand, we have organizations that are pleased with their progress along with organizations that will continue to invest at the same time as organizations seeking to do things better than their competitors. These three macro factors will accelerate the strain on limited resources. Talent acquisition in the short term will be extremely competitive which is why organizations will take advantage of data and analytics specialists, like Adastra, to not only fill the gap but resolve their immediate needs with high-quality talent which can be fulfilled via global delivery centers.