AI is key to post-pandemic success across all businesses

A global survey by ManageEngine found businesses are now generally becoming more aware about the benefits of data-driven decisions, with 89 percent of respondents reporting increased use of analytics. In the Philippines, however, industry studies show only two out of five companies are data-driven, with the rest still relying on descriptive and diagnostic analysis.

As the prolonged movement restrictions spill into this year, businesses are forced to accelerate their digital transformation leading to an exponential rise in data. While struggling to interpret the vast quantity of data, many organizations also realize there are gaps in their understanding and analysis of the data to hinder reaping the real benefits of data-driven insights.

In an online question and answer session with The Manila Times, Rakesh Jayaprakash, product manager of ManageEngine, said data-driven reality is upon us in the Philippines. He further proposed intelligent artificial intelligence (AI) driven analytics would be a major factor in empowering organizations of all sizes to compete and succeed in an increasingly digital post-pandemic world.

Excerpts from the interview:

The Manila Times (TMT): Please describe the types of products ManageEngine has for data analytics — what are their capabilities, functionalities, etc.

Rakesh Jayaprakash: ManageEngine’s flagship AI-powered information technology (IT) analytics software, Analytics Plus, helps IT teams and organizations collate and analyze large volumes of data for effective decision-making. The self-service analytics solution allows C-level executives and business users to ask questions and get instant responses in the form of rich visualizations.

Its built-in forecasting and scenario analysis engine allows users to predict future trends by factoring in variables that influence outcomes. Besides offering out-of-the-box analytics with popular applications, Analytics Plus eliminates data silos by auto-blending data from various sources to get a holistic view of operations. It also promotes collaboration amongst team members and users from various departments using a multitude of sharing and publishing options while ensuring security and privacy at every level.

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TMT: Does the AI application need to be installed in a central facility such as a data center or a consulting/research facility or is there a software or app perhaps that could be accessible to and affordable to small businesses, for instance?

Jayaprakash: It’s recommended to install Analytics Plus on a server connected to the rest of the corporate network to ensure employees and decision-makers could access the application using their regular web browsers or the complimentary mobile app. Though the application is installed on a corporate network, it could be made accessible over the internet, meaning users could access insights from anywhere. With prepackaged components, deployment is as easy as installing a new web browser on your computer.

At ManageEngine, we realize a lot of SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) are hesitant to invest in analytics applications due to the capital investment and skill set required for a successful deployment. Not only is Analytics Plus competitively priced to make it easier for SMEs to start their analytics journey, but it also comes in a free edition and a low-cost edition to allow SMEs to start at a smaller scale, then expand as their business grows.

TMT: Could they be readily installed in Windows, for example, which an office IT personnel could work with every now and then, or would they require the skills of a data scientist for maximum benefit?

Jayaprakash: Analytics Plus is a lightweight package that could be installed on a low-end Windows laptop for personal use; however, it’s recommended to use server-grade hardware for organization-wide use.

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The application is designed specifically for nontechnical users who may not possess advanced skills for running complex reports without expert help. Users could simply ask questions such as, “What is the rate of service level agreement compliance this week?” and the analytics assistant, Zia, powered by natural language processing and AI, could process the question, look for the right data points, and come up with visualizations in a matter of seconds.

TMT: How could we convince businesses, especially SMEs, that they need data analytics not only to become agile or competitive, but also to actually survive in a post-pandemic future, given there are other challenges like the need for additional cybersecurity defenses on top of existing safeguards against data theft?

Jayaprakash: The best way for SMEs to use analytics is with a land and expand strategy, which involves getting SMEs to analyze data from one or two departments that have the biggest impact on the business. This would ensure less effort is involved, the initial financial impact is minimal, and the business could start getting results fast. The quick results could serve as a driver for expanding further into other departments.

The ever-present need for vigilance has progressively increased over the past few years as threat actors become more advanced in the way they breach security measures. This does stand as a barrier for SMEs looking to start implementing analytics, but it’s also an opportunity for SMEs to incorporate data management best practices from the very beginning.

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