As data volumes continue to grow and become more disparate by the day, the time is now for organizations to implement ways to efficiently leverage this critical data. In July 2019, Alteryx surveyed 500 United Arab Emirates (UAE) businesses to understand how data and analytics are driving their businesses to thrive in this data-led world. The new Alteryx-commissioned research uncovers the benefits and impact of data analytics in digitization projects across six of the most digitally advanced countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Asia-Pacific (APAC).
This report summarizes the key findings of the research and uses the information gathered to provide a snapshot into how companies across the UAE are progressing in their analytic journey. It explores the current thinking into the value of data, the primary data challenges, the culture of data and analytics and the key technology enablers to demonstrate how a smart approach to data guides the way to successful digitization.
Commenting on the findings of the research, Alan Jacobson, chief data and analytics officer at Alteryx said:
“The business case for data has truly been acknowledged. While many are still balancing data inefficiencies with the challenge of a shortage of skilled data workers, this latest research from Alteryx underscores that investing in data and analytics alone won’t deliver real business-altering results. Whether performing precision marketing to improve sales or analysing data from various departments across an organization, the world of business is quickly becoming the world of analytics. A smart approach to data and a data literate culture will guide the way for successful digitalization.”
Abboud Ghanem, Senior Director – Middle East and Africa at Alteryx, added:
“There is no doubt that data is key in driving business success in the minds of businesses across the UAE. Every data worker, regardless of technical acumen, wants to be able to easily find and understand what information is at their disposal; have the flexibility to prep, blend, enhance and analyse data from more sources; and easily operationalise analytic models through a collaborative and governed platform. At Alteryx, we will continue to make the Alteryx Platform easier to use for all data workers, while extending its ability to handle more sophisticated data science outcomes for trained data statisticians in order to create an analytics-centric culture across most every industry and functional areas of business.”
Data is permeating every part of business and is key to success
With over three quarters of survey respondents (79%) agreeing that data is a critical corporate asset for driving the business forward it’s clear that businesses are taking advantage of what seems to be insurmountable data sources across industries and internal functions.
When it comes to where businesses are in their analytical journey, almost two thirds (62%) of UAE businesses class themselves in the advanced stages of their analytic journeys.
For those businesses leveraging data for insights over two fifths (41%) report the major business benefit as increased productivity, followed by over one third (36%) citing they gained better insight into customers, and over one third (34%) stating the ability to make savings and efficiencies for my department or organisation.
Businesses are also seeing soft benefits increase. Over over three quarters (79%) agreed that using data analytics has helped break down internal silos. Respondents cited improved employee satisfaction (41%) as a benefit of using data. Overall two in five (40%) said that analytics improved work-life balance and are able to better balance their lives after embracing data in their role.
Businesses can’t win in analytics without the human element
With digital skills classed as a major priority for businesses, over four in five (83%) agree that everything they are investing in data and analytics is useless without people who understand it.
Proving that businesses simply cannot proceed to tackle the technical challenges existing in a data-driven industry without the right workforce, more than two fifths (41%) reported that it was easier to access the talent needed to manage analytics than last year, while almost one in three (32%) have a team of dedicated data scientists for all their analytics work.
Only one in five businesses reported that a talent shortage prevented them from becoming a data-driven business.
Those who are leveraging data report several key factors that they still need to overcome in order to be more efficient. When allocating time to performing impactful data analyses, one in three (33%) cite data quality as a big challenge to building a data pipeline for the business, followed by almost one third (30%) stating a lack of strong data governance is a major contributing factor to wasted time that could have been spent assembling insights.
A culture of data and analytics is needed to transform data into actionable insights
When it comes to the building blocks for their digital transformation initiatives, over four in five (81%) agree that empowering people is the key to digital transformation.
Stressing that empowering employees to affect business-change with data will enable them to succeed in their digital transformation initiatives, over one third (35%) state a culture of data and analytics will be the biggest game changer for analytics success while two fifths (40%) state they need more focus on employee skills and talent to drive transformation.
Businesses are starting to build this culture to derive value out of their data, as almost one third (30%) have a clear enablement strategy based around community, training, and tools that drives our data analytics usage and over one quarter (29%) hold regular data workshops to inspire data workers to generate insights as part of our data analytics strategy.
In an increasingly data-driven world, over two thirds (70%) of respondents agree that data is so valuable that it’s become a new currency, and the same number agree data progression is also key to career progression.
Technology can be an enabler or constraint to data analytics success
Proving data will always be at the forefront and one of the most important drivers of success and true digital disruption, businesses across the UAE reported the top three technology enablers having the greatest impact on their business today as data and analytics (42%), artificial intelligence/machine learning (36%) and blockchain (33%).
When asked their top technology priorities to continually modernize their analytic journey, UAE businesses digital transformation enablers (47%), getting more value out of our data resources (47%), and further investment in data platforms and services (46%) in order to accelerate time-to-insight and break barriers.
Technology can also be a constraint to a data-driven business. When asked which key technology enablers they are prioritizing investment in within the next five years to support a variety of initiative for data analytics success almost one third cited data and analytics (32%), just ahead of blockchain (28%), and artificial intelligence/machine learning (27%).
UAE businesses anticipate the biggest technology game-changers for data analytics success within the next five years to include: self-service analytics (31%), augmented data discovery (27%) and explainable AI (27%).