12 Data and Analytics Trends to Keep on Your Radar

5 April 2022

Contributor: Laurence Goasduff

Adaptive artificial intelligence (AI) systems, data sharing and data fabrics are among the trends that data and analytics leaders need to build on to drive new growth, resilience and innovation.

In short:

  • These data and analytics (D&A) trends will allow you to anticipate change and manage uncertainty.
  • Investing in those trends that are most relevant to your organisation can help you meet your CEO’s priority of returning to and accelerating growth.
  • Proactively monitor, experiment with or then decide to aggressively invest in key trends based on their urgency and alignment to your strategic business priorities.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine added a geopolitical crisis to the enduring global pandemic, and managing consequent and persistent uncertainty and volatility will be a key focus for data and analytics leaders this year.

“Now is the time to anticipate, adapt and scale the value of your D&A strategy by monitoring, experimenting with or aggressively investing in key D&A technology trends based on their urgency and alignment to business priorities”, says Rita Sallam, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner.

Download now: The IT Road Map for Data and Analytics

This year’s top trends in data and analytics relate to three imperatives:

  • Activate diversity and dynamism. Use adaptive AI systems to drive growth and innovation while coping with fluctuations in global markets.
  • Augment people and decisions to deliver enriched, context-driven analytics created from modular components by the business.
  • Institutionalise trust to achieve value from D&A at scale. Manage AI risk and enact connected governance across distributed systems, edge environments and emerging ecosystems.

Gartner Top Data and Analytics Trends for 2022

12 data and analytics (D&A) trends on the radar in 2022

We have identified the data and analytics trends that represent business, market and technology dynamics that you cannot afford to ignore. These trends also help prioritise investments to drive new growth, efficiency, resilience and innovation.

No. 1: Adaptive AI systems

As decisions become more connected, contextual and continuous, it is increasingly important to re-engineer decision-making. You can do so by using adaptive AI systems, which can offer faster and flexible decisions by adapting more quickly to changes.

However, to build and manage adaptive AI systems, adopt AI engineering practices. AI engineering orchestrates and optimises applications to adapt to, resist or absorb disruptions, facilitating the management of adaptive systems.

Download eBook: 5 Key Actions for IT Leaders to Make Better Decisions

No. 2: Data-centric AI

Many organisations attempt to tackle AI without considering AI-specific data management issues. “Without the right data, building AI is risky and possibly dangerous”, says Sallam. As such, it is critical to formalise data-centric AI and AI-centric data. They address data bias, diversity and labelling in a more systematic way as part of your data management strategy—including, for example, using data fabric in automated data integration and active metadata management.

No. 3: Metadata-driven data fabric

The data fabric listens, learns and acts on the metadata. It flags and recommends actions for people and systems. Ultimately, it improves trust in, and use of, data in the organisation and can reduce by 70% various data management tasks, including design, deployment and operations.

As an example, the city of Turku in Finland found that gaps in its data held back its innovation. By integrating fragmented data assets, it was able to reuse data, reduce time to market by two-thirds and create a monetisable data fabric.

Find out more: Your Ultimate Guide to Data and Analytics

No. 4: Always share data

While data and analytics leaders often acknowledge that data sharing is a key digital transformation capability, they lack the know-how to share data at scale and with trust.

To succeed in promoting data sharing and increasing access to the right data aligned to the business case, collaborate across business and industry lines. This will accelerate buy-in for increased budget authority and investment in data sharing. In addition, consider adopting data fabric design to enable a single architecture for data sharing across heterogeneous internal and external data sources.

No. 5: Context-enriched analysis

Context-enriched analysis builds on graph technologies. The information on the user’s context and needs is held in a graph that enables deeper analysis using the relationships between data points as much as the data points themselves. It helps identify and create further context based on similarities, constraints, paths and communities.

Capturing, storing and using contextual data demands capabilities and skills in building data pipelines, X analytics techniques and AI cloud services that can process different data types. By 2025, context-driven analytics and AI models will replace 60% of existing models built on traditional data.

No. 6: Business-composed D&A

Gartner champions a modular approach to data and analytics, or “composable D&A”. Business-composed data and analytics builds on this trend, but the focus is on the people side, shifting from IT to business.

Business-composed D&A enables the business users or business technologists to collaboratively craft business-driven data and analytics capabilities.

Find out more: Everything You Need to Know About Artificial Intelligence

No. 7: Decision-centric D&A

The discipline of decision intelligence, which is careful consideration of how decisions should be made, is causing organisations to rethink their investments in D&A capabilities. Use decision intelligence disciplines to design the best decision, and then deliver the required inputs.

Gartner estimates that by 2023, more than 33% of large organisations will have analysts practising decision intelligence, including decision modelling.

No. 8: Skills and literacy shortfall

D&A leaders need talent on their team to drive measurable outcomes. However, virtual workplaces and the heightened competition for talent have increased the lack of data literacy—the ability to read, write and communicate data in context—within the workforce.

By 2025, Gartner estimates that the majority of CDOs will fail to foster the necessary data literacy within the workforce to achieve their stated strategic data-driven business goals.

As the cost of investing in data literacy and employee upskilling is constantly rising, start inserting “claw-back” or “payback” clauses into contracts with new hires to recover costs in the event that an employee departs your organisation.

No. 9: Connected governance

Organisations need effective governance at all levels that not only addresses their existing operational challenges, but is also flexible, scalable and highly responsive to changing market dynamics and strategic organisational challenges.

However, the pandemic has further highlighted the urgent need for strong cross-functional collaboration and readiness to change organisational structures to achieve business model agility.

Use connected governance to establish a virtual D&A governance layer across business functions and geographies to achieve desired cross-enterprise business outcomes.

Watch Gartner experts discuss: How to Build a Comprehensive Data & Analytics Governance Framework

No. 10: AI risk management

If organisations spend time and resources on supporting AI Trust, Risk and Security Management (TRiSM), they will see improved AI outcomes in terms of adoption, achieved business goals and both internal and external user acceptance.

Gartner predicts that by 2026, organisations that develop trustworthy, purpose-driven AI will see over 75% of AI innovations succeed, compared to 40% among those that do not.

Increased focus on AI TRiSM will lead to controlled and stable implementation and operationalisation of AI models. In addition, Gartner expects far fewer AI failures, including incomplete AI projects, and a reduction in unintended or negative outcomes.

No. 11: Vendor and region ecosystems

Regional data security laws are making many global organisations build regional D&A ecosystems to comply with local regulation. This trend will accelerate in the new multipolar world.

You will need to consider migrating and duplicating some or all parts of your D&A stack within specific regions, and by design or by default, manage a multicloud and multivendor strategy. 

To build a cohesive cloud data ecosystem, consider several actions. Evaluate the extensibility and broader ecosystem offerings of your vendor’s solutions and consider aligning with them. Also, reevaluate the policies favouring a best-of-breed or best-fit strategy for end-to-end D&A capabilities in the cloud by weighing the benefits of a single vendor ecosystem in terms of cost, agility and speed.

No. 12: Expansion to the edge

More D&A activities are executed in distributed devices, servers or gateways located outside data centres and public cloud infrastructure. They increasingly reside in edge computing environments, closer to where the data and decisions of interest are created and executed.

Gartner analysts estimate that by 2025, more than 50% of enterprise-critical data will be created and processed outside the data centre or cloud.

Extend D&A governance capabilities to edge environments and provide visibility through active metadata. In addition, provide support for data persistence in edge environments by including edge-resident IT-oriented technologies (relational and nonrelational database management systems), as well as small-footprint embedded databases for the storage and processing of data closer to the device edge.