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Top 8 data analytics trends to watch in 2021

Following a year of unpredictability, SAS experts examine state of analytics; forecast predictions for the year ahead

Predicting 2021 data analytics trends, SAS experts reveal what’s ahead in digital transformation, artificial intelligence, IoT and smart cities, medical research, banking and public policy.

As government agencies, businesses and individuals continue to navigate the coronavirus pandemic's ongoing disruption, no one would have predicted the impact on innovation and digital transformation across the global landscape. Now, as the world prepares to head into the new year, analytics leader SAS' most forward-thinking experts offer insights for using analytics to transform data into decisions that improve lives and results:

  1. Reconfiguring the cloud for analytics "Originally the cloud was built for transactional systems. It wasn't built for analytics. Analytics requires a lot more memory than a traditional application – and faster networks to get to data that is not in memory – in order to make analytics work in real time. Those are things cloud providers didn't think about because initial applications in the cloud were transactional." - Tom Fisher, Senior Vice President of Business Development, SAS

  2. Decision makers start to trust AI "The more visibility that decision makers have into AI results, the more confidence they have in the decisions that are being made by the models. Adding human oversight and explaining the models at each step in a decision process will start to bring acceptance to AI and automated decisioning." - João Oliveira, Business Solutions Manager, SAS

  3. Smart towns catch up to smart cities "As city dwellers flee the city, they expect the same levels of service in the country, including fast broadband, food delivery and digital interaction with government agencies and civic planners. Small towns are catching up with cities using analytics. Now that where you work no longer matters, smaller cities have an opportunity to attract and recruit people to relocate using analytics, driving population growth that was previously unattainable." - Shaun Barry, Senior Manager, Global Security Practice, SAS

  4. The year of the vaccine "If 2020 was the year of COVID, 2021 will be the year of the vaccine. Which vaccine will be approved first? Which will get distributed around the globe? Will we rely on multiple vaccines to improve distribution and effectiveness? Analytics will not only play a role in approvals for the vaccine development process but will also be important for planning rollout and tracking distribution, side effects and effectiveness." - Greg Horne, Global Principal for Health Care, SAS

  5. Consumers gain more control with remote everything "Consumers are in control when it comes to retail digitization, banking digitization, health care digitization – and more. Work, school, lectures, concerts, book readings, religious services, fitness workouts: If it can go remote, it is going remote. As consumers do more online, businesses are expected to keep up. That means improved digital technologies, more efficient supply chains, online customer service and easy scheduling – all managed and optimized with analytics. The benefit to the business? If you can digitize quickly, you'll have more data and a better view into who's interested in your content, products and services." - Klaus Kohlmayr, Chief Evangelist, IDeaS

  6. Data natives enter the workforce "A generation raised on data – from eating and exercising to sleeping and productivity – is beginning to enter the workforce. Their innate abilities to track and understand data will improve the ways we work. They bring data literacy skill sets and a comfort level with data that will help make all aspects of organizations more analytical and more innovative with data." - Lucy Kosturko, Manager for Social Innovation, SAS

  7. Patient-first pharma saves more lives "The data-heavy drug development process continues to improve with advanced analytics – and all of the improvements benefit patients. Due to advancements in analytics, for example, clinical trials are able to bucket multiple drugs into one study instead of only studying one drug at a time. Targeted therapies based on your genetic profile are becoming easier to develop. And results from every phase of clinical trials are coming in faster and faster, giving patients a better opportunity to find the latest treatments that will work for them." - Mark Lambrecht, Director of Global Health and Life Sciences, SAS

  8. Old-school organizations have new opportunities to reinvent themselves with analytics "Data-driven government responses to COVID-19, for example, are changing perceptions of government responsiveness. And banks that implement automated decisions are surprising customers with new investment opportunities. Today, the industry that invented analytics is showing that it can apply analytics in new ways to help citizens." - Steve Bennett, Director of Public Sector and Financial Services, SAS



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