COVID-19 has fundamentally changed almost all aspects of our social worlds and how we function and do business. One of the key impacts on organizations has not been seen by the world outside. Organizations have been quickly modifying how they access data to increase the value of the data to compete and survive in today’s world. Organizations are now asking themselves extremely challenging questions, ones that will alter their Data Analytics and data strategies in the coming years.

The Mass Pivot to Cloud and SaaS is Here to Stay

What these organizations are really embracing is the importance of an analytic strategy and integrated data. They have quickly realized that an integrated approach is essential for seizing opportunities and making quick changes to match the market volatility that will be the norm in the coming years. This strategy heavily centers on the quick adoption of SaaS and cloud. As companies tap into the promise of data analytics and AI/ML, they are turning to cloud for help. When thinking about which cloud providers to work with, 78% of respondents stated that big data analysis is a “must-have” or a “major consideration”. This is not surprising, as cloud solutions address the most common pain points and barriers to innovation.

However, despite adopting SaaS and cloud-based models, what most organizations need to decide is how to cope with the intrinsic cultural challenges. How can everyone from line workers to senior executives get on board for the entire organization to adopt a new way of working? And, just as important, how do we get technology specialists and IT – those who manage the analytic environments and data – to adopt a new charter.

Organizations Must Get Outside of Data and Analytics Comfort Zones

Both data specialists and the C-suite are being pushed out of their comfort zone with respect to data sovereignty, security, and governance. Organizations that have started to adopt SaaS and cloud to democratize data are working on only one of the concerns on the way to creating a data-driven culture. There has also been a tremendous growth in data literacy initiatives and free training that can improve data skills democratization. Organizations must use these tools and trainings to create a culture where everyone can successfully work with data.

IT has the opportunity to become data stewards and enablers, helping to propose new ways of structuring and providing data, recognizing process improvements, scoping business opportunities and driving operational efficiencies.

Data Specialists Become Evangelists and Champions of Change

This can only happen if data scientists do not consider the change from being makers and builders to evangelists and champions – as a threat to their value and necessity. Of course, they will still need to ensure that the systems are functioning and that the data and analytic environments are complying with the regulations from concept to deployment. But, instead of seeing themselves as reduced and sidelined due to an increase in data-informed users, these specialists should understand that their roles are actually expanding. And, not just them, but all workers at an organization should consider data enablement as an upward inflection point in their careers, with everyone enriching their careers and helping their companies prosper.