The pandemic has caused significant disruptions across industries as businesses needed to revamp the way they engage with customers, suppliers and partners. Along with the massive shift to remote work, digital transformation initiatives had to rapidly accelerate in order to interact with customers digitally and to deal with the increased logistical need to move products and supplies to people in a world with travel restrictions and lockdowns.
When faced with seismic shifts caused by the pandemic, business leaders that already prioritized the accuracy, consistency, and context of their data were better positioned to address these challenges because they already had a greater degree of confidence in the insights driving decision making.
As all businesses think about their business continuity and future profitability, the need for accurate data is taking center stage for the years ahead. How can businesses better understand the changing dynamics of their worlds? How can they better work with partners and suppliers in a world where logistics are more and more complex? How can they most effectively reach their customers?
The heightened focus on building more trust in data continues, and the lasting impacts of 2020 are shaping how companies have to evolve to become more and more data-driven. To ensure they remain competitive, businesses must understand the changes already underway for data, including its applications across industries, rising priority in C-Suite strategic decisions, ability to empower location-based intelligence to reach customers and suppliers where they physically are, and implications on more quickly adopting emerging technologies.
Data converge across industries
Although every organization using data has the same goal of driving greater success and efficiency, it has traditionally been siloed to specific industries. For example, retailers have always tracked customer-specific data, whereas logistics companies focus on collecting data for shipments. The last year highlighted how interconnected industries are in the global economy and placed a greater emphasis on cross-vertical data communication.
Logistics companies of all sizes have been challenged this past year to move more goods to people, whereas in the past, people often traveled to the good. Think of the explosion in food delivery services – restaurants that survived did so because they adapted their delivery models and exchanged data with varied delivery services to move the food to people.
As the world look forward to the COVID-19 vaccine, logistics carriers and pharmaceutical companies are a prominent illustration of how imperative it is to have accurate and consistent data in order to build a distribution system that reaches people wherever they are across the globe.
In this process, it is critical to ensure data has the proper context for decisions to be made confidently and avoid unforeseen disruptions. This context extends beyond just internal data from the logistics and pharmaceutical companies. It also relies on critical data from external sources, such as public health organizations and government databases, to effectively plan manufacturing according to changing case numbers or routing supply chains with local shutdowns.
While on a smaller scale than the vaccine effort, businesses have seen the benefits of cross-vertical data in resiliency planning and mitigating disruptions, which is why the converging of data across industries will be more critical than ever in 2021 and beyond.
Data integrity prioritized by the C-Suite
Data integrity delivers the accuracy, consistency, and context that businesses need to remain competitive in an increasingly data-driven world. Organizations have historically been fixated on ensuring data accuracy and consistency, but it is imperative to understand the context as well – what are the connections among the data points that describe dynamic circumstances and events. It is only by adding context that data becomes dynamic and intelligent.
With the dramatic increased reliance on digital technologies and changing processes in response to the pandemic, businesses found themselves needing more than just an abundance of data. Now more than ever, the C-Suite understands just how fundamental trusted data is. In the next year, business leaders will invest more in data integrity as a result and aim to grow their competitive advantage through data-driven intelligence.
Location becomes a lynchpin
While digital transformation took on new importance in 2020 due to the need to interact with people remotely, actual location information took on a renewed level of importance as well. Contact tracing and vaccine distribution in 2020 certainly highlighted the importance of location intelligence.
The applications of location data have also improved customer experiences and helped many industries shift to digital by delivering greater insights on how to best engage with their target audiences. Location-based data provides more context on business assets to help drive better decisions and outcomes. Regardless of whether the world remains highly remote and socially-distanced or not in the year ahead, location intelligence will be a staple for any data-driven organization’s success as they all have new expectations about goods and services being delivered to customers, where they are located.
AI and ML finally grow up
While the ability to manage and analyze large volumes of data was unheard of a decade ago unless you were a large company, advancements in emerging technologies, specifically artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), have made this capability the norm for most modern-day enterprises.
But AI and ML require accurate, consistent and contextual data to drive better business decisions and enhance the overall customer experience. As the enterprise sector has grown to adopt more of these automated analytical technologies, so has the corresponding demand for more accurate datasets. Coupled with the surge in demand for more mobile and cloud-based technologies as a result of the pandemic, executives and other IT Leaders will continue investing in emerging technologies such as AI and ML in order to meet growing demands from clientele.
Organizations have needed to dramatically evolve their business models to navigate the drastic changes fueled by the pandemic. Although some companies may have been better suited than others to accelerate digital transformation efforts at a more rapid pace than others, business leaders across all industries have grown to understand how poor data can lead to unavoidable losses in market share. As companies apply the learnings from 2020 to their resilience planning in the year ahead, data integrity will be at the foundation.