Why data science is so important right now

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2020 has been a year for the history books – unfortunately though for reasons we’d all prefer to forget! Many businesses have experienced a really tough year, but rather than seeing it as one long crisis, I prefer to view it as many different waves of mini-market changes.

To explain, factors like lockdown rules and related government guidance that have and continue to change in accordance with the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic, has led to many different market environments. It’s a constantly evolving reality and those companies who are best able to predict and adapt have been able to steal a march against more flat-footed rivals –  online retailers that now have the definite edge over bricks and mortar retailers are a perfect example. 

Looking inward

As a business owner, the crisis has been a time of doubt, and has prompted an in-depth analysis of costs and revenues. Many organisations have been forced to explore ways of creating more value with existing or fewer resources. Trimming waste from budgets, and ensuring ROI, has been essential for us and many others, and there is a strong desire to embed a data-driven approach to areas that previously might not have been considered. At Mango, conference budgets for instance have been transferred and utilised elsewhere in the business, allowing our data science teams to widen their approaches and deliver more value. 

Implementing a data-driven approach allows organisations to optimise their business effectively, which has helped them to make quicker, effective decisions. In fact, a recent report by Sisense found that 49% of respondents surveyed said analytics were more or much more important than before COVID-19. The changed circumstances has led to a requirement for more agile approaches backed up by predictive analytics. 

Whilst many organisations were in crisis mode in the early parts of the year, the new circumstances have allowed time for consideration and change. Business as usual was never going to be as effective in a swiftly transforming world, and it has created an opportunity for companies to try different things, bring forward innovation and change approaches to markets. We’ve seen technology providers embrace the opportunity by speeding up release cycles and driving their engagement with totally different markets. The ease with which my mum started using Teams for video calls was a fascinating compliment to the developers of that product and I’ve no doubt that the digital revolution for marginalised groups such as the elderly has been enhanced massively.

Looking outward

We work within a range of styles with our customers – some prefer to completely outsource, while others look to us to develop and enhance an existing team. When lockdown bit early, many companies immediately put a halt to recruitment processes, which meant that in order to execute workloads, we were able to help create data science teams for customers to deploy and maintain momentum around data-led initiatives.

Several months on and as we face renewed restrictions, I believe that this time around a lot of organisations will regard it as an opportunity to roll out new methods and move further towards harnessing the power of data science. Covid-19 has provided a stimulus to boards to be creative and flexible since all businesses have been affected. It’s an ideal opportunity for organisations to step up and adapt their business model to take advantage of areas such as innovation and data science, which might well have been on the agenda, but were probably tucked away a bit further down ‘for review’ in a few years’ time. Taking action and investing now is vital and a relative “free hit” for leadership teams.

Virtual is going to be totally dominant from now on. Those companies who have embraced it wholeheartedly will have a massive advantage, and I think we’ll see an acceleration in the adoption of online only business in pretty much every aspect of our lives. We see this as beneficial for Mango in that a transition to a digital approach to business necessitates a primarily analytic led strategy.

Looking forward

With most organisations moving towards a less office-based environment, there are opportunities to change styles of working and this will include how analytic code is held and distributed. This may well involve outsourcing of analytic development, where virtual teams can become extremely effective. In the future we are likely to see more confederacy in teams enabling organisations to extend teams and create focused high delivery groups from different resources. I think we’ll see much more team augmentation with increasingly effective outcomes. It’s exactly why now is the time to invest in data science initiatives.

Author: Matt Aldridge, CEO at Mango Solutions