Overcoming economic uncertainties requires the ability to see around corners and make informed decisions based on data. How is that done in a multi-cloud economy?

Amid market uncertainties, business leaders will be looking to optimize their IT spending to equip workers with data analytics tools to deliver mission-critical insights and drive business growth.   

The cloud plays a pivotal role in democratizing analytics so all employees in an organization can make the best business decisions. By 2027, according to IDC, 70% of organizations will invest in specialized cloud-based performance-intensive computing environments to gain agility, scale and faster business insights.

However, organizations are still highly reliant on data analysts for data insights leading to bottlenecks to data-driven strategies and goals. How can organizations simplify cloud analytics for all employees to achieve business goals and navigate market uncertainties?  

DigiconAsia sought out some insights from Philip Madgwick, Senior Director, Asia, Alteryx: 

How can businesses tap onto the power of cloud analytics to transform business processes and navigate uncertain times?

Madgwick: Businesses have a competitive imperative to act and react to disruption and market changes, but many organizations still use yesterday’s tools to answer today’s questions.

Cloud analytics is a game-changer when it comes to unlocking the potential of data and the greater democratization of analytics – both needed to deliver insights at speed. With data growing at an exponential rate, businesses are already facing an overwhelming amount of fragmented raw data, unable to unlock it for new opportunities to drive growth and create value.

The cloud combines nearly infinite storage with the elastic computing capacity needed to process, analyze, and automate processes at speed and at scale – delivering a comprehensive modern data and analytics ecosystem.

Speed-to-insight requires making full use of data stored in the cloud while leveraging the fast-computing power of the cloud for analytics processes. Findings from our 2023 State of Cloud Analytics Report uncovered that cloud analytics will be an enterprise imperative for thriving in 2023. Almost four out of five (81%) respondents expect cloud analytics to have a positive impact on managing economic uncertainty. 

Cloud technologies typically provide greater hardware elasticity needed to scale up and down compute resources when needed. This scaling capability of the cloud can also be quite important when analyzing large datasets – particularly where significant compute resource is needed for a short period of time, but peak load is not needed consistently.  Today’s evolving business landscape requires fast insights, formed on trustworthy information and accurate decisions for organizations to thrive. Cloud-based analytics not only facilitates powerful data processing but makes both data and analytics more accessible.

By supercharging speed of execution and ease of use via access to browser-based self-service analytics across the enterprise at scale, business leaders can also help the next generation of knowledge workers put data-driven insights at the heart of decision-making.

Philip Madgwick, Senior Director, Asia, Alteryx

What are the key challenges to adopting cloud-based analytics?

Madgwick: One of the key challenges to adopting cloud-based analytics is reaping the full benefits of cloud investments. Many enterprises are still struggling to realize the full potential of cloud investments as not all users have the access to the data or applications that they need. According to a report by Flexera, respondents self-estimated that organizations waste 32% of their cloud budget.

Additionally, organizations are still hoping to keep the lights on with their existing on-premise infrastructure as they have processes, support, and procedures in place for their on-premise technologies. We uncovered that only 45% of decision-makers reported having more than half of their analytics solutions hosted in the cloud today. Migrating all their data on a cloud and abandoning existing infrastructure that took effort and cost to implement is not always cheap or easy.

As business leaders think about cloud-based analytics, they need to see it as a collaborative process within the whole organization. It’s key to ensure that everyone — from IT to domain experts and business analysts to data engineers and data scientists — can collaborate, develop models, solve problems, and drive insights with data.

There is often also a skills gap for cloud-based analytics for both existing data science teams and non-data-specialized employees. According to IDC’s 2022 survey on IT services, 51% of firms indicated that retraining IT teams and acquiring key skills needed to support digital capabilities such as cloud migration have surfaced as significant challenges.

When delivering data insights, there are three core requirements. First is the need for data. Second is for that data to be high quality. The third requirement is to have a team that is upskilled and educated on what data factors and attributes are specifically needed to deliver the first two. If data is the fuel needed to drive business insights, then a data-literate analytic-enabled workforce is the engine that powers this process – delivering new insights and innovations previously out of reach.

To overcome analytics cloud adoption hurdles, business leaders need to assess current and future business needs, identify key areas of skills gaps to bridge and inculcate an agile culture towards emerging technology. This requires a collaborative approach where everyone speaks a common language of data. Only then will businesses be poised to realize the full potential of cloud-based analytics.

What are some strategies businesses can adopt to support their organization in democratizing analytics?

Madgwick: There are some key strategies that businesses can use in democratizing analytics and maximizing organizational-wide benefits for cloud adoption.

Firstly, businesses need to identify key stakeholders in the adoption process such as the IT, sales and marketing, and data teams who are most likely to support the adoption of cloud analytics. With the support of these key internal stakeholders, communicate the benefits of cloud to the company’s decision-makers.

The adoption of cloud analytics may be met with objections due to lack of data literacy or knowledge. Businesses should tackle any objections head-on and prioritize cloud analytics solutions that are easy to learn and use. With today’s self-service cloud-native analytics solutions, harnessing data-driven insights on the cloud is now more accessible, scalable, and collaborative than their on-premise counterparts. As such, more employees can discover meaningful insights that drive top- and bottom-line returns.

Next, keep what employees want in mind and meet their requirements. Above all else, employees value an easy and approachable interface and an end-to-end solution that covers every step of the analytics lifecycle. It is also important to educate and upskill non-data-specialized employees. A no-code / low-code self-service analytics solution is crucial in empowering and upskilling these employees to harness business insights.

Overall, a mindset shift towards a change-embracing one is crucial for adoption and analytics democratization efforts to be efficient. The switch, of questioning the status quo and doing things differently, should be applied at any point or activity along the innovation lifecycle. Moving away from the overcautious mindset and keenness to keep the lights on can promote open-mindedness and exploration with new technologies and ways of working.

How will cloud analytics play a pivotal role in democratizing analytics to empower workers and win business outcomes?

Madgwick: The greatest potential of cloud-based analytics lies in the combination of two things – data democratization and the use of browser-based self-service analytics to enable data-driven decision-making at scale. Ultimately, it is the cloud that makes data and analysis more accessible.

With business leaders in a state of permacrisis, organizations now find themselves with the competitive need to act unlock and enable these knowledge workers through democratizing the analytic process. To extract the full value of data, leaders must empower all employees to participate in the analytics process.

Democratizing analytics is an ongoing process of empowering employees in the organization, irrespective of business acumens and technical skillsets, to work comfortably with data and make data-driven decisions. The solution to bridging the gap between data and insight sits with upskilling accounting teams, marketing experts, sales leaders, and logistics managers.

Human intelligence is and will always remain vital to unlocking the value from within the vast volumes of data organizations are holding. Business leaders taking steps to invest in upscaling their current domain expert employees across all departments are driving the business forward faster and more efficiently through cloud-based data analytics. The 2023 State of Cloud Analytics Report shows that the businesses who make data accessible to all employees generate more return from their analytics investments.

Cloud analytics is also helping organizations empower their employees with the capabilities needed for a post-pandemic world. This includes faster decision-making (58%), improved collaboration (42%), and greater productivity (41%).

Today’s cloud-based analytics platforms have made democratizing analytics easier as no-code / low-code analytics solutions makes it easy for non-data-specialized employees to learn and use. Accessible, easy-to-use cloud platforms combined with a cloud-first business mindset empowers workers to reap the full benefits of cloud analytics to take advantage of data assets and make truly, informed decisions.

This is evident as nearly 90% of our respondents agreed cloud analytics have helped them be more profitable.