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The Digital Age is Still All About the Data

August 3, 2022


“Today,” writes tech freelancer Apoorva Bellapu, “it is practically impossible to lead our lives without data.”[1] In the business world, she implies, it is impossible to conduct routine operations without data. She explains, “This is for the sole reason that data has become one of the most critical aspects of businesses.” How critical? According to Yossi Sheffi (@YossiSheffi), Director of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, big data is an organization’s most valuable asset. “The well-worn adage that a company’s most valuable asset is its people needs an update,” he writes. “Today, it’s not people but data that tops the asset value list for companies.”[2] As valuable as data is, that value must be unlocked. Sudeep Srivastava (@sudeepsriv), cofounder and Director at AppInventiv, explains, “Succeeding in today’s digital era is difficult. Business leaders have to be extremely aware of their market — of the industry, their customers’ needs, and the ever-changing market disruptions and benefits. The only way to remain on top of these events is through the incorporation of big data analytics.”[3]


Unlocking the value of data


The Market Trends staff at Analytics Insight observe, “Advanced analytics is a collective term for a wide range of analytics techniques that make use of cutting-edge computing techniques such as machine learning. It employs mathematical and statistical formulas and algorithms to generate new information, recognizes patterns, and also to predict outcomes and their respective probabilities.”[4] They go on to list some of the key benefits of leveraging advanced analytics. They include:


• Robust support for day-to-day business decisions

• Quick hypothesis and prototyping

• Improved agility for business development

• Optimized decision-making and automation

• Data analytics democratization

• Better end-to-end supply chain visibility

• Increased speed to market

• Lower inventory costs and boosted revenue

• Better business agility and increased business resilience


What shouldn’t have escaped your attention is the fact that most of those benefits are derived from better decision-making. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Bain analysts, Michael C. Mankins and Lori Sherer (@lorisherer), explain, “The best way to understand any company’s operations is to view them as a series of decisions.”[5] They add, “People in organizations make thousands of decisions every day. The decisions range from big, one-off strategic choices (such as where to locate the next multibillion-dollar plant) to everyday frontline decisions that add up to a lot of value over time (such as whether to suggest another purchase to a customer). In between those extremes are all the decisions that marketers, finance people, operations specialists and so on must make as they carry out their jobs week in and week out.”


Commonsense tells us that companies making the best decisions on a consistent basis perform better than their competitors. And Mankins and Sherer insist they have the data that backs that up. They report, “We know from extensive research that decisions matter — a lot. Companies that make better decisions, make them faster and execute them more effectively than rivals nearly always turn in better financial performance. Not surprisingly, companies that employ advanced analytics to improve decision making and execution have the results to show for it.” That’s why Enterra® is focusing on the advancement of Autonomous Decision Science™ (ADS™) and the Enterra Autonomous Decision Science platform that leverages embedded advanced analytics.


Advanced analytics in the digital supply chain


It was interesting to note that the Market Trends staff specifically identified the value of advanced analytics in supply chain operations. The reason they did is because more and more people have come to realize what Lora Cecere (@lcecere), founder of Supply Chain Insights, asserted nearly a decade ago: “The supply chain IS business, not a department within a business.”[6] Tech writer Thor Olavsrud (@ThorOlavsrud) agrees with that assessment. When it comes to the most important advanced analytic trends in 2022, he writes, “It’s all about the supply chain. … For many organizations, supply chain analytics are becoming an essential component of doing business.”[7] He adds, “In 2022, companies are getting serious about assigning value to their data and leveraging that value to drive revenue. It’s not just about selling data; it’s about understanding how to bake data into an existing product or service, or even using data internally, to generate demonstrable value streams for the organization.”


The importance of advanced analytics is not lost on most business leaders. Srivastava reports, “In a survey conducted by NewVantage Partners in late 2021, it was found that 91.7% of IT and business executives said they’re growing their big data and AI investments, while 92.1% of them reported that they are getting massive business outcomes from these technologies. Now, to be a part of these statistics, it is essential to apply the best big data analytics techniques.” He also notes the age of a company is doesn’t matter. “The importance of big data analytics stands for both established firms and startups,” he writes. “For the former, it helps make sense of the massive amount of datasets, for the latter, it helps through promoting agility and the ability to take quick data-centric decisions.”


Advanced analytics helps companies understand the world and how it is constantly changing. Although valuable insights can be gained by analyzing historical data, when the world experiences a paradigm shift — like a pandemic — historical data may no longer be a reliable gauge of the future. Cognitive computing solutions, like the Enterra Global Insights and Decision Superiority System™ can help organizations keep abreast of the changing business environment by analyzing near-real-time data.


Concluding Thoughts


Business writer Nidhi Singal (@nidhisingal) believes, despite the evident benefits of advanced analytics, most companies are not taking full advantage of them. She explains, “Over the past decade, leading enterprises and organizations have increasingly adopted digital technologies. From deploying enterprise resource planning (ERP) to customer relationship management (CRM) solutions to creating mobile apps to digitally enable the enterprise, organizations have adopted digital transformation frameworks as a way to reimagine themselves, staying competitive in their respective businesses and industries. Yet, most have only understood it to be about automating operations, and investments in the most critical area — data analytics — remain low.”[8] Irina Ghose, COO of Microsoft India, told Singal, “Digital transformation starts with data, but the increasing volume, velocity and variety of data makes it more and more complex to draw valuable insights and make informed decisions.” Ghose also told her “that with data analytics, organizations can break down data silos and generate insights for better decision-making and, sometimes, even automate the decision-making process itself.”


Although there seems to be more discussions about artificial intelligence and automation than discussions about data, business leaders should never forget that the digital age is powered by data. Clayton Nicholas (@ClayJNicholas), Founder and CEO of Vibronyx Inc., explains, “Data may not be considered a revolutionary concept, but today, it is considered a fundamental component of digital transformation. Data is the key to achieving breakthroughs in supply chain management that the industry once considered impossible. … Organizations must invest in effective data analytics to mine data for valuable, proactive insights and accelerate intelligent decision-making.”[9]


[1] Apoorva Bellapu, “Data Science vs Data Analytics vs Big Data: What Does Your Business Need?” Analytics Insight, 13 February 2022.
[2] Yossi Sheffi, “What is a Company’s Most Valuable Asset? Not People,” LinkedIn, 19 December 2018.
[3] Sudeep Srivastava, “Big Data Analytics – What it is, why it matters and how to implement it in business,” AppInventiv Blog, 15 April 2022.
[4] Market Trends staff, “Advanced Analytics and Its Real-World Applications,” Analytics Insight, 1 May 2022.
[5] Michael C. Mankins and Lori Sherer, “Creating value through advanced analytics,” Bain Brief, 11 February 2015.
[6] Lora Cecere, “Sage advice? Only for turkeys.” eft, 1 February 2013.
[7] Thor Olavsrud, “3 data and analytics trends that will dominate 2022,” CIO, 17 March 2022.
[8] Nidhi Singal, “Why Leveraging Data Meaningfully is the Key to an Organisation’s Success,” BusinessToday, 12 June 2022.
[9] Clayton Nicholas, “Transforming The Supply Chain With Data Analytics And Intelligence,” Forbes, 14 March 2022.

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