Data and Analytics Trends for 2022

Data and Analytics Trends for 2022

January 25, 2022

data analytics coding

Nowadays, it’s becoming increasingly plain to see that data forms the backbone of every organisation out there.

Any business that views data analysis as a core business function is likely to be a well-oiled machine. More and more organisations are starting to unlock the vast potential of data-driven insights, realising how drastically they can streamline business processes and contribute to long-term growth.

As companies come to realise that they are powered by data, it’s critical to be aware of the key data and analytics trends for the year ahead. New technologies are rapidly evolving, whilst existing technologies are advancing at a dramatic pace too. Thus, the landscape of data and analytics is forever shifting. The scope for innovation is huge.

Let’s dive into some of the hot topics in the data and analytics scene for 2022.

Causal AI

According to an October 2020 study, only 10% of organisations see a significant return on investment from their use of artificial intelligence. What new developments could possibly be a solution to this lack of financial return? Enter causal AI.

Causal AI stands out from typical predictive AI by taking the concept one step further. Not only is the technology capable of taking data and predicting future outcomes, but it also identifies the factors that all play a role and have an influence on those outcomes.

Unlike most standard AI systems which often require large pools of data, can crumble under the pressure of novel data, and provide limited explanation relating to decisions, causal AI relays information in a far more comprehensible and reliable way.

Imagination is embedded into causal AI. This means that if there’s a crisis or it comes into contact with unusual data, the technology is able to rationalise critically and respond to unexpected change.

In the era of COVID-19, it’s crucial that AI is able to adapt and respond to novel situations that are a world away from stores of outdated historical data.

Causal AI also presents information in an easily digested way, so that humans can work hand-in-hand with it. It’s helping to democratise data analytics by filtering its findings through a very comprehensible lens. It’s not as difficult to decipher as with most standard AI systems which use black box models.

Explanation is at the forefront of causal AI. It places an emphasis on the why, so that decision-makers have a real understanding of the issues at hand. It creates a link between cause and effect in order to make more accurate predictions. To find out more about this revolutionary technology, take a look at Causalens, a pioneering company when it comes to causal AI.

TinyML

Tiny machine learning is a big innovation that comes in the smallest of packages.

It’s a type of technology that provides on-device analytics on low-powered hardware and software alike. It involves sensors that are capable of detecting and tracking certain sounds, visuals, and movements.

Many companies are introducing this technology in a bid to optimise efficiency, maintain health and safety standards or minimise the negative impact that their organisation has on the environment.

TinyML is able to run on small, battery-powered devices. This saves vast amounts of energy and money by performing tasks on a piece of hardware and reserving cost and power for the processes that truly demand it.

If problems can be identified through TinyML’s on-device sensors, this has the power to improve the efficiency of an organisation. They can hold back and use their more expensive, larger-scale technology where it’s really needed.

This technology is being used more and more, for a number of purposes and spanning a vast array of industries. It’s a far more cost-effective and low-energy method of tracking data in order to monitor a company’s performance.

Generative AI

Generative AI is capable of taking existing data – whether that be in the form of images, text, or sound – and building new content on its own. The technology identifies patterns within pre-existing content and then models its own self-generated content off of it.

People are gradually waking up to the transformative capabilities of generative artificial intelligence. The power it holds is difficult to fathom. Anyone who’s seen a deepfake of a celebrity is aware of how plausible the artificially-produced content can be.

This technology can be utilised in a number of different fields and for a range of purposes. One very common function of generative AI is the processing of images. It’s able to sharpen low-quality pictures, and even restore century-old historical video by creating smooth frame-by-frame transitions and infusing the video with vivid colour, bringing the past to life.

Generative AI is also at the forefront of medical innovation. It can be used in 3D printing as part of the process of creating prosthetic limbs.

It’s even capable of proof-reading text, editing long-format written pieces and, incredibly, composing a narrative out of multiple pieces of information, putting it all together to create an article or story of its own making. It’s awe-inspiring and, to many, truly terrifying.

As exciting and innovative as generative AI is, there are many potential risks associated with it. In the wrong hands, generative AI could be used to scam people or spread misinformation. There definitely is a dark and potentially malicious side to it when used in negative ways.

One thing’s for sure: generative AI is taking the world by storm. It’s sure to develop even further to new and impressive heights in 2022.

The metaverse

A word that is currently on everyone’s lips, the metaverse is a trending topic that is spreading like wildfire. It’s shrouded in mystery, and even though we don’t know much about it yet, it’s hard not to be excited and terrified in equal measure.

As it stands, the metaverse remains a very loosely defined and abstract concept. Broadly speaking, it’s set to be a virtual reality space where the digital and physical worlds collide. It’s going to be designed as a platform for people to work, play, and socialise.

Whilst some envision the metaverse as an entirely virtual space completely removed from the physical world, a kind of world in and of itself, others believe that it will infuse the real world with digital features, creating a kind of augmented reality.

Many mega corporations are gearing up to be major players in the metaverse, including tech giants Microsoft and Facebook (who recently rebranded themselves, rather fittingly, as ‘Meta’).

The metaverse is still in the early stages of development, very much a fledgling project. Because of this, the building of the metaverse will depend heavily on real-time data analytics. Much of the content on the platform will be user-generated, and it will be incredibly interesting to see how this gradually unfolds in practice.

AutoML

Automated machine learning has already been adopted by many companies, who are beginning to reap the benefits of this technology. AutoML is growing in popularity, and it’s easy to see why.

AutoML is the automation of data discovery, facilitating the way in which we gather insights. It’s a key development in the data world, that has dramatically changed the way in which data scientists work.

Formerly tasked with manually preparing data and inquiring into model hyperparameters due to the fact that they were the ones with the niche machine learning knowledge and expertise to carry this out, the data scientist is now free to turn their attention away from less dull and tedious tasks and towards more engaging and impactful work.

Thanks to this technological advance, the data analyst is now at liberty to focus on more value-add tasks. AutoML is by no means capable of replacing human expertise, it simply means that the data analyst is no longer bound to technicalities.

In the past, machine learning was beyond the remit of non-ML experts, but AutoML has changed the game in this respect, opening up the world of machine learning and contributing to the democratisation of data. This is a progressive change that makes machine learning more accessible to ‘citizen’ data scientists.

Chances are, AutoML will become a fundamental business practice for many companies in 2022.

Natural language processing

Whilst natural language processing is by no means new technology, it’s developing at a rapid rate and will have a huge impact in years to come. We’ve only scratched the surface of NLP’s capabilities.

Computers typically do not speak our language – they use machine code, a secret language known by a select few. That is, until NLP came along. Natural language processing makes human-machine communication far easier, as it allows us to communicate with computers using our own language. It’s breaking down the wall between machines and humans, by rendering machines capable of understanding voice and text data and responding through the same medium, using human language.

For those who do not have coding experience or computer science backgrounds, this has the potential to be revolutionary. The technology is still not perfect, and uptake is still relatively low. However, we’re convinced that it could dramatically contribute to the democratisation of data in coming years. People without coding abilities can use NLP to make data queries and reach insights through written and spoken word.

In many real-life contexts, NLP is already an established part of everyday reality. Whether it’s through your voice-operated GPS, online customer service chatbots, translation tools such as Google Translate or virtual agents like Amazon’s Alexa, you’ve probably interacted with NLP in some capacity before.

But the role of NLP is expanding as businesses begin to adopt it as a means of streamlining business processes. Many companies are starting to utilise NLP in order to gather data from emails, surveys, customer calls and social media in order to gauge customer sentiment. It offers a new and innovative way of measuring company performance and customer behaviours. Customer feedback can be reviewed via NLP in order to analyse the collective opinion of the company’s audience.

Demand for data storytellers

With this influx of data innovation comes an increase in demand for analysts with the ability to transform data into actionable insights. Data volumes are growing, and many businesses now view data analysis as a core business function rather than a distant, separate department occupied by a few specialists.

The data job market is booming. After COVID-19 first hit, a LinkedIn report found that of the top five fastest-growing skills, two were directly related to data and analytics.

If there’s one thing in particular that is highly sought after at the moment, it’s data visualisation skills. Although AI and ML technology allow you to glean insights from data with more ease, the volume of data is rapidly growing. And thus, there is a high demand for users who can tell a story with that data, creating a cohesive and accessible narrative by carefully selecting the insights that are meaningful to the business.

Data storytelling allows users to paint the bigger picture and communicate that to the executive level of the company, acting as a mediator between the data scientist and the wider business. To succeed at this, a deep understanding of the business and the way it operates is crucial, as is the ability to communicate concisely and effectively. Niche expertise of coding and computer science is no longer the be-all and end-all.

With the democratisation of data, insights are no longer in the hands of data specialists alone. Data analysis is a core business function that companies are coming to rely more and more upon to drive success.

If you’re thinking of hiring data scientists, data engineers or analysts into your business in 2022 and would like some help, please get in touch with us at contact@nicholsonglover.co.uk or visit our website for more information.

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Working at an agency versus client-side

Working at an agency versus client-side

January 13, 2022

Two roads decision

At some point in your career, you may find yourself at a crossroads. Both paths stretch out in front of you, and you’re torn as to which route to take. It’s an age-old dilemma: should you be working for an agency or client-side?

Spoiler alert: there’s no right answer. Ultimately, whichever road you end up following, your decision should be based upon your own personal work preferences and the expectations that you have from your career.

When it comes to working at an agency versus client-side, neither is inherently superior to the other. Both paths come with their own unique set of challenges. But by being aware of your strengths and weaknesses you can determine which environment you’d thrive in.

Read on for an in-depth probe into both agency and in-house work.

Working at an agency

Anyone who’s sat through an episode of the Netflix show Emily in Paris will have witnessed a deceptively rose-tinted portrayal of agency life.

If you think that working at an agency consists of boozy mid-week brunches on the Seine and the occasional viral Instagram post, think again.

Girl going to lunch out of office agency

Working at an agency is hard work. It’s not uncommon to be juggling multiple accounts and working for a number of clients that span many industries. Your client could be a fashion brand one day, and a tech firm the next.

One obvious benefit of this is that it allows you to build a diverse portfolio. Working with many different brands, you’ll have the creative license to make an impact in a range of different fields.

This can be both a blessing and a curse. Great fun when working with your dream client, but when you’re working for a brand you have no interest in? Not so fun. This is something you cannot truly control in an agency setting.

No two days at an agency are alike. If you thrive in an unpredictable and exciting work environment, far removed from the mundane 9-5, then agency life could be for you. Agencies are often incredibly fast-paced and KPI-driven. For those who work well under pressure, it’s the perfect set-up.

Due to the highly specialised nature of an agency, you’ll be able to develop and hone an in-depth knowledge of a particular area in your field. The training at an agency is often unparalleled in this respect.

The company culture of an agency exudes dynamism and energy. You’re surrounded by people in the same sector as you, working on similar projects, but everyone will have different specialisms and strengths, which makes an agency a goldmine of opportunity. Your co-workers are your greatest resource. You’ll be able to bounce off them for creative ideas and learn from them.

Colleagues working together at desk at agency

If you’re looking for a youthful and exciting work environment, then agency work is the way to go. Many agencies offer their employees great benefits and training schemes, as well as a lively social side.

Chances are, you’ll join an agency at entry-level with a comparably lower salary when held up against in-house starting wages. However, new roles open up pretty frequently at an agency, and so your progression will probably be quicker than if you chose to work client-side. Agencies are increasingly upping their game when it comes to creating attractive job offers. More competitive salaries, incredible benefit packages and training opportunities all tend to come hand-in-hand with a job offer at an agency nowadays.

However, it’s not all sunshine and roses. The culture at an agency is often extremely competitive. And although there tend to be many opportunities for progression, these are highly sought after. You’ll find that many of your colleagues are battling it out for the same promotion as you.

Working at an agency, your boundless creativity is pigeonholed by the needs of any given client. Your creative autonomy is only allowed to flourish so far as it remains within the confines of the client’s expectations. You are expected to adhere to their strict deadlines and respond to their very specific demands.

Working client-side

Agency life definitely isn’t for everyone. And for those who are looking for a different working environment, working client-side represents an attractive alternative.

In a client-side role, you’re working with one brand alone, and thus it becomes your responsibility to truly know your organisation inside out. You’ll come to learn what makes the business tick, and develop a deep understanding of your company, getting under its skin.

Colleagues working together at desk

If you’re the kind of person who likes to see their projects through from beginning to end, being able to witness first-hand the impact that your work has on an organisation, then working in-house is the best option for you. When you see the positive results of your work up-close, the personal payoff and sense of satisfaction can be huge.

Whilst you’re likely to develop a more niche and specialist knowledge of your particular field in an agency, working client-side gives you the chance to dip your toe into a range of different responsibilities, working on wide-ranging projects.

Depending on the size of the company, in-house culture tends to be more corporate than an agency environment. You’re a small fish in a big pond. At an agency you’re centre stage, as the services you provide are quite literally the product that the agency sells to the client. When working client-side, you’re one cog in a much larger wheel.

One massive perk of working client-side is the stability that comes with it. You receive a stable income, with wages often higher than at an agency, and have a fixed 9-5 work routine. It’s far less common to be working outside of office hours when you’re client-side. It’s also likely that you’ll have a more manageable workload.

However, opportunities for progression in a client-side role arise far less frequently than at an agency. You could find yourself plateauing in your career, as people stay in their roles for longer and thus promotion opportunities are few and far between. If you’re a hyper-ambitious and competitive individual, you could find your career a bit stagnant in a client-side role.

Whilst the social side may offer up less of a buzz than at an agency, working in-house has its own charm. Brands often have a family-like atmosphere, with collaboration being at the forefront. Whilst working at an agency can be more competitive and cutthroat, brands tend to foster a more team-oriented environment, with people working cross-sector to help each other out.

Colleagues working together at desk client-side

Working in-house, you get a real glimpse into the nuts and bolts of the business. Whilst at an agency you’re often shoehorned into one aspect of a project the client is asking for, at a brand you’re given a panoramic insight into how the business functions through it’s different departments. You’ll be working alongside colleagues in finance or HR, getting a true sense of the organisation and how all of the small pieces of the puzzle fit together seamlessly to form a cohesive whole.

Conclusion

If you’re umming and ahing between these two alternatives, take these factors into consideration in order to make the best decision for you.

Ultimately, if you’re the kind of person who is target-driven, excited by fast-paced unpredictability, thrives under pressure and relishes competition, then an agency could be the perfect fit for you.

On the flipside, if you’re motivated by a fixed routine, a manageable workload, an environment that fosters support and collaboration, as well as the opportunity to see the impact of your work first-hand, then client-side is likely where you belong.

For more career insights and advice, visit our blog.

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(Realistic) career New Year’s resolutions

(Realistic) career New Year’s resolutions

January 6, 2022

January has rolled around once again. And with it, the usual fanfare: people are either flocking to the gym, on a juice cleanse, taking up meditation or going vegan.

New Year’s resolutions have become standard practice for many of us.

However, chances are that by mid-January, the vast majority of people will’ve scrapped their cold-pressed green juices and given up on their 6am jogging routine.

The problem with the commonly accepted notion of ‘New Year, New Me’ is that the resolutions this mindset promotes are often fundamentally unrealistic and unattainable.

It’s about time we faced the truth. You’re not going to wake up on the 1st of January as a shiny, new and improved version of yourself. Small, sustainable habits are the building blocks of long-term success. After all, Rome wasn’t build in a day.

And the same goes for career-related New Year’s resolutions. Instead of saying that your plan for the New Year is to ‘get a promotion’ or ‘get a raise’, implement realistic changes into your working life that will gradually lead you towards your desired long-term outcome.

Just like those who inevitably abandon their intensive fitness regime and restrictively healthy lifestyle before the month is through, people who set overly vague and ambitious New Year’s resolutions for their career will fall at the first hurdle. Such goals are too intimidating, and impossible to measure in the short-term.

We’re bringing you a list of small (but mighty) work-related goals for the year ahead, goals that are actually realistic.

Reflect on your long-term career ambitions

In order to determine which small changes to make for your career in the New Year, it’s important to first take a step back, take a deep breath and ponder on where you currently are in your career.

Conduct your own mini career evaluation. How have you progressed in your career thus far? What’s worked well and what could you do differently, moving forward?

Contemplating in this way can help feed into your career-related New Year’s resolutions. It’ll give you an idea of what positive actions you can take in the New Year to progress further.

Take a glimpse into the future and ask yourself: a year from now, where do I want to be, career-wise? And which small steps can I take to reach that point?

Sure, maybe one of your ultimate goals is a promotion. Whilst it’s important to identify that from the get-go, you then need to break this down into smaller, bit-sized resolutions to help you get there.

Give your professional profiles a makeover

Regardless of whether or not you’re planning on applying for a new job in the New Year, there’s no harm in giving your CV and LinkedIn profile a revamp.

Refine your CV as much as possible, fine-tuning it to ensure that all the information presented on the page is relevant, concise, and up to date.

As a resource, LinkedIn is a goldmine that you need to be tapping into. Make it your career New Year’s resolution to give your profile an overhaul.

When it comes to improving your LinkedIn, the opportunities are endless. Update your photo to really showcase your personal brand, review your listed skills and endorsements, ask for recommendations, start posting engaging and relevant content for your followers, network more…the list goes on.

Just one thing to keep in mind. LinkedIn is not the same thing as a CV, so don’t go overboard with detail. You don’t want to raise suspicion at work that you’re planning on jumping ship.

LinkedIn should just provide a glimpse into your experience, a taster that leaves your audience on the edge of their seats, wanting more.

Gain a professional certification

No matter how established you may already be in your career, gaining a new certification is bound to be beneficial to your professional development.

There truly is a course out there for everyone.

If you’re an experienced project management professional, there’s courses like the PLP certification. For those in marketing, the CIM offers an array of virtual classes that can earn you accredited awards.

But that’s not to say that any course you undertake has to be directly relevant to your current role or industry. Expand your horizons by taking a creative writing course, a coding course, or a photoshop course.

Enriching your skillset may come in handy for your career in unexpected ways.

Be bold, and take the lead more

To really put yourself in the best position possible for goals like a raise or promotion, the key is to be fearless.

Take every challenge by the horns.

Make it a New Year’s resolution to say yes more. To put yourself in leadership positions and showcase your talents. Find opportunities to gain more exposure to clients, own more project deliverables, lead on more presentations, and develop mentoring skills.

By adopting this mindset, you’ll make yourself more visible to your superiors, paving the way for career advancement.

Clear out your files and email inbox

If there’s one thing that’s going to get you off on the wrong foot in your career at the start of the year, it’s the glaring red notification jumping out of your computer screen.

You’re likely to encounter this after a long hiatus over Christmas break, a stark reminder of the thousands of unopened emails in your inbox.

Simple as it may sound, clearing out your computer files and email inbox is one of the first resolutions you should be making for the New Year.

By decluttering your work laptop of all unnecessary junk and starting afresh, you’ll be able to walk around the office with a spring in your step.

Join a professional community

Professional organisations come in all shapes and sizes.

Certain institutions are industry-specific, and can massively help you level-up your career.

There’s a professional body for practically every specialisation out there: the MRS, the CIM, the ADaSci, the MCA…to name just a few.

Membership to a professional body related to your industry is beneficial in a number of ways.

For one thing, membership often demands certain entry requirements, such as certain skills or a specified amount of experience. So, simply being part of a closed professional community allows you to showcase your expertise in a particular field.

Professional organisations are also home to a wide array of resources. Topical industry news, career advice, and networking events, for example.

Certain organisations open their doors to many professionals from different industries seeking networking opportunities  (for a fee, of course). The AllBright community is worth a special mention, as it’s a women’s-only membership that provides a lavish space for professional women of all ages and seniorities to meet and network.

It’s safe to say that, although they incur a cost, these professional bodies are definitely worth it. If you’re looking to invest in your career, joining an organisation of like-minded, ambitious individuals will advance your professional life no end.

Read one inspiring book per month

If there’s one small step you should be taking towards gradual professional self-improvement, it’s reading more.

If that promotion or raise is really what you want, inspiring career-motivation books are jam-packed full of wisdom and expertise to steer you in the right direction.

By adopting a sustained approach – setting a goal of reading one career-related motivational book a month – you’ll be paving the way for a gradual mindset shift.

Books such as James Clear’s Atomic Habits and Farrah Storr’s The Discomfort Zone are founts of invaluable advice, that can help you adopt lifechanging habits for the long-term.

Incorporate wellness into your work routine

Wellness means something different for everyone.

But at it’s core, wellness is the act of putting yourself first. And we believe it’s crucial to incorporate wellness into your working life in some form.

It’s important to find a healthy habit that suits you. Whether it be walking to work, taking more mindful breaks throughout the workday, packing a healthier lunch instead of making the predictable pilgrimage to Pret, attending yoga classes in your lunch break.

Every small mindful act contributes to our overall state of wellbeing. And the impact this can have on your productivity and motivation levels is palpable.

This year, invest time in cultivating positive habits that you’ll carry with you throughout the year. Changing your mindset is the first step towards achieving your ultimate career ambitions. 

Which of these career New Year’s resolutions will you be incorporating into your working life in 2022? We’re already a week in, so the time to start is now!

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