After a brief hiatus, the Insights Beat blog series is back, where I will continue to feature and curate the latest research and thought leadership from our business insights, data, analytics, and AI research team. It’s been a fast start to the year, and there is so much amazing research that the team has published in the first quarter.

We continue to see the rise in interest from clients on how to become more insights-driven and better use data and analytics in all aspects of decision-making. Compared to beginners, advanced insights-driven businesses prioritize innovation, use AI to improve customer experiences, and intensely focus on people, skills, and culture. In many of these advanced firms, chief data officers are systematically leading the charge to create business impact and evangelize the need for an insights-driven culture. They are relying on a slew of insights and analytics technologies to drive this transformation. With these trends in mind, our research in Q1 2021 focused on how companies should:

Put People First

The data and insights transformation is a people transformation first. This starts with the evolving role of the chief data officer (CDO) and how these leaders are demonstrating tangible business value. But it doesn’t stop with the CDO — many data and analytics roles are evolving rapidly, both in technology and business functions. This doesn’t mean a wholesale change in your data talent approach; in fact, look for ways to infuse three key change-agent personas within existing personas to drive more decision-making from data.

Actively Shape Your AI Innovation

AI 2.0 is here — namely, five key advances (transformer networks, synthetic data, reinforcement learning, federated learning, and causal inference) will push the boundaries of what AI can do today. Forward-thinking enterprises should start thinking ahead on how to take advantage of this next wave of AI innovation. Consultancies and service providers are already helping enterprises think about AI as a holistic system of innovation. See our latest Forrester Wave evaluation of AI consultancies.

Create Data Trust

Trusted data means trusted business, but old-school data governance is not the answer. Data governance was never about the data — it was about your business. Focusing on command-and-control cultures, bureaucracy, complexity, and technology has hobbled data governance success for too long, and it’s time to break this data governance fatigue. Familiarize yourself with the landscape of data governance solutions that improve trust, ensure compliance, and accelerate data value. Go further to build trust by understanding how data masking solutions can protect sensitive data by obfuscation and improve data security.

Free Your Data And Content

Traditionally, organizations have relied on a polyglot persistence approach in choosing the right data store based on the data type and model. This data segregation, inconsistency, and integration poses challenges, especially when dealing with multistructured data such as documents, graphs, or tabular data. Now enterprises can be “free” of these constraints with multimodel data platforms. Get your data ready to support integrated, real-time, and self-service analytics with cloud data warehouses. And it’s not just enterprise data but also content, in the form of documents, process-rich applications, and files, where you need modern content platforms to equip your remote workforce and partners with better collaboration and content delivery.

Get Smarter About Analyzing Customer Data

There is a plethora of digital intelligence technologies that are available to enterprises to make sense of digital customer interactions. And it’s not just online interactions — companies with an offline presence, such as retailers, can get a lot smarter about what shoppers and consumers do within stores by using digital store analytics. Last year, we also saw companies adopting customer analytics well beyond marketing into customer experience and other functional areas.

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Note: A Forrester subscription is required to access the research featured and linked in this post.