As we near the end of the first quarter of 2019, which trends are worth watching?
Data Visualization 3.0
To kick us off, let me highlight an area that is a regular topic on this blog, data visualization. Progress in this area is always a combination of skilled people as well as technology.
So, building on the positive examples from IIB Awards 2018, what is the trajectory for 2019? Well, I think this video from Elijah Meeks (senior data viz engineer at Netflix) highlights some important 2019 trends.
He not only summarizes the history of data viz tool development, but also the changing expectations of users. He may well be right about the 2019 theme of convergence -- a third wave, not just of tool convergence but of developers and readers expecting one more flexible tool and communication medium.
Self-Serve Analytics Tries Again
There have been plenty of times when Gartner’s predictions of technology adoption have proven too ambitious, but they are always worth hearing. In a recent paper, Gartner predicted that by 2019 fully automated or semi-automated systems would be delivering more analytics than data scientists (or analysts).
Now, I am old enough to have seen at least two other waves of analytics “self-service,” with many predicting the democratization of analytics, only to later find that business leaders would prefer an analyst to do the work for them.
See also: 3 Skills Needed for Customer Insight
However, with the rise of machine learning improving the intelligence and personalization of report/visualization delivery, this time may be different. This article from Dataversity does a good job of considering how this might happen for business intelligence (BI). However, I think it stretches the term BI too far and misses the difference between the advanced analytics and data science work, where data scientists should focus.
AI Applications Revitalize an Antiquated Trend
We shared several posts on the state of AI during 2018, focusing on financial services applications and even the issues of AI ethics. However, when worrying about potential threats to your career, it has become clear that many applications are hyped.
What we began to see in 2018 was a more mature production line to manage the delivery of AI products (including role of product manager). Several speakers at the Data Leaders Summit 2018 shared their practical experience in deploying AI models from lab to business lines.
So, I was interested to read this post on the reliable customer experience (CX) hub “Customer Think,“ from Vince Jeffs of Pegasystems. He provides a useful summary of how AI applications will evolve to better meet the CX demands for 2019, including familiar topics like empathy, human-machine collaboration, data protection and ethics.
Jeffs makes a good case for how AI applications will begin to demonstrate progress on all these fronts in 2019, an important milestone, if not yet the sci-fi destination of AI.
NOT the Year That Blockchain Transforms Businesses
This is a strange one for me to finish on, but I thought it worth including this (non) trend. Given that we have focused before on blockchain, and the outstanding questions if it is to help data science leaders, this caught my eye.
The title is almost clickbait, which is rare for a great site like Datafloq. However, the thoughts are worth reading. In this short post, Steve Jones helpfully summarizes both the progress in business adoption and the problem of still over-promising.
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I hope wise businesses will continue to adopt blockchain technology only where it is a more appropriate data solution. That could achieve its status as a data source that begins to matter to data leaders for analytics, too. But more likely it will be 2020 before we see serious use.
Which Waves Are You Preparing to Ride?
I hope those trends were useful to share with you and help inform your planning. There are many more topics I could have covered, including wider developments in data science, IoT and virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR).
Which technology waves will you be riding in 2019? Are any essential to you achieving your 2019 goals? I’d love to hear your priorities or forecasts.
Paul Laughlin is the founder of Laughlin Consultancy, which helps companies generate sustainable value from their customer insight. This includes growing their bottom line, improving customer retention and demonstrating to regulators that they treat customers fairly.