Click to learn more about author Karl Hampson.
The staggering implications of the current pandemic have entirely changed today’s business landscape, leaving leaders looking for solutions that will help them thrive or even just survive this unprecedented environment.
While the COVID-19 crisis poses many challenges — and there are indeed significant problems on many fronts — it also provides the impetus for long-needed organizational changes when it comes to data-driven decision-making. More specifically, today’s organizations need information and insights more than ever before, and big data will play an important role in helping companies navigate today’s altered business landscape.
However, unlike before this crisis, when data was defined by abundance and was siloed in isolated segments, post-pandemic companies will liberate data, pairing it with powerful new technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI), to achieve the accurate and real-time insights necessary to successfully navigate this unique time.
More Than a Crisis
Today, the notion of a “data-driven company” is both a cliché and a misnomer. More than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created each day, as companies record and store every view, click, like, and share.
Unfortunately, most organizations are sitting on a mountain of data that they don’t or can’t use. This year, it’s estimated that as much as 93 percent of collected information will go unused. This so-called “dark data” isn’t moving the meter when it comes to helping companies stay agile and informed about rapidly shifting customer demands.
In contrast, crisis management requires an integrated and actionable view of company data. The best information is both structured and unstructured, derived from every facet of your organization. Ultimately, companies must liberate their data by breaking down data silos while stitching together once disparate data sets.
In some cases, simple strategies can make this possible. For instance, the process of creating personas and visualizations can lead people to derive actionable insights from critical data points. During the pandemic, this process is continually on display, as the process and visual of “flattening the curve” has become a critical rallying cry that drives government decision-making and public awareness.
More realistically, companies are going to need support to achieve the actionable insights that can drive decision-making.
Putting AI in the Driver’s Seat
The business implications of the COVID-19 crisis offer little latitude when it comes to developing and implementing a strategy for liberating data. Simply put, leaders will need to act with speed, efficiency, and effectiveness to steer their companies through this challenging landscape.
In doing so, they can:
- Turn to Cloud Data Solutions: For instance, Google’s BigQuery is a serverless, highly scalable, and cost-effective cloud data solution that supports the analysis of structured data sets. In many ways, it’s a plug-and-play platform for companies that need “right now” insights.
- Integrate Data Using Available APIs: Services like Natural Language Processing and Document AI, both provided by Google, are the leaders in this field, and these services are business-ready today. These APIs can take unstructured data sets and connect otherwise separate data sets.
- Prioritize Visualizations: Automated knowledge graphs produced by services like Elasticsearch can collect and connect unstructured data, producing immediate visualizations, which can identify relevant connections between data sources. They put decision-makers in a position to succeed by making data insights visible.
- Focus on What Matters Most: Big data doesn’t always produce a clear or accurate outcome. However, anomaly detectionplatforms like Google’s BigQuery ML or Elasticsearch’s Machine Learning Module can provide automated machine learning that identifies anomalies or anticipatory patterns in time-series data.
- Experiment with Rapid Dashboarding Tools: Ultimately, the goal of big data is to foster an informed decision-making process. These tools, like Google Data Studio, Elastic’s Kibana, or Canvas, can help leaders expedite this process from day one.
In many ways, business best practices in a post-COVID-19 environment will mimic those deployed to fight the virus. As the World Economic Forum reminded leaders, “The primary challenge now, at the time of this crisis, is to integrate and streamline digital infrastructure at various stages of the public health response.”
For business leaders and decision-makers, this means that now is the most important moment in modern history for data and AI. Therefore, it’s critical to break down the barriers to integrated organizational data — to liberate information in a way that can drive informed decision-making in times of crisis and after the urgency abates.