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Risk Management: Tackling Business Challenges Amid Permacrisis Whether it's a pandemic, natural disaster, ransomware, or financial investment, decision-makers must stop responding to a crisis as it unfolds, think about the next, and anticipate it before it happens.

By Alan Jacobson Edited by Aby Thomas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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In today's business landscape, leaders are in a perpetual state of permacrisis, constantly grappling with various external pressures. Faced with navigating a turbulent economy, uncertainty has become the new reality, as business leaders continue to try and gain market share while traversing persistent supply chain challenges, surging inflation, and constant recession concerns. While today's macroeconomic environment introduces new and unique challenges, one thing remains consistent: the need to drive customer value.

During times of uncertainty, business leaders share a common urgency to shift from reactive responses to proactive strategies that anticipate, prepare, and address future crises. Moreover, business leaders require insights to drive decision-making. The risk and uncertainty pervading today's business environment leave no room for relying on gut instincts to ensure they can quickly plan and make critical decisions. Whether it's a pandemic, natural disaster, ransomware, or financial investment, decision-makers must stop responding to a crisis as it unfolds, think about the next, and anticipate it before it happens. Forward-thinking business leaders need to rely on accurate, real-time, data-driven insights to predict where the next crisis may occur, what impact it will have, and plan for the future.

Unlocking the value of data

Faced with the daunting task of needing to do more with less while simultaneously striving to maintain or increase revenue, real-time, data-driven insights are essential for making meaningful decisions under pressure. As the data revolution continues to grow to a staggering 180 zettabytes by 2025, companies need to be able to quickly mine and use that data to have meaningful value and help navigate uncertainty.

RecentI DC research commissioned by my company, Alteryx, revealed that 73% of organizations expect analytics spend to outpace other software investments. This highlights the growing recognition of how technology can support better decision-making and reshape outcomes when they are most needed. But while companies are moving into a world of unprecedented data analytics potential, many decision-makers are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data available. While data is now widely seen as a lever for faster, more informed decisions, unlocking data is essential to the business-wide ability to use it as a course corrector. Because no matter how much data you have, it's useless unless the right people can access and leverage it- those closest to the problem.

Technology is only an accelerant of any form of transformation. Only by upskilling and equipping people with the tools, skills, and data to surface data-driven insights in real-time can decision-makers be empowered to better manage risk at all levels. Whether proactively finding patterns and correlations, or revealing redundancies and anomalies in the data, each can provide the decision intelligence needed to quickly respond to or manage a changing business condition.

Related: Seven Tips On Mitigating Cyber Risks To Your Corporate Social Media

For example, breakdowns in global supply chains have been a pain point for many businesses in the past few years, from understanding difficult-to-track customer demand, to procuring finished products and materials from a network of uncertain capacity. Each suffers time-sapping, inefficient manual processes. Few are data-driven. Data and analytics can help keep the flow of goods moving to where they are needed, boost efficiencies along the journey, and even navigate an unforeseen crisis. Quality data and predictive analytics are also integral to mitigating risk across the banking and finance industry. The ability to view and compare data sets can reveal various variables, trends, and patterns insights that can help to mitigate fraud and manage risk effectively.

Delivering the power of data-driven decision making

While the effective use of data and analytics is crucial to predicting and navigating uncertainty and disruption, many organizations still struggle to democratize data, and empower decision-makers to harness it for informed decisions. So, what's holding businesses back? According to the Alteryx Maturity Assessment, only 11-25% of business decision-makers have access to data, and only 4.8% said they effectively leverage external and unstructured data.

Ultimately, speed, agility, and decision intelligence are critical in mitigating risks while delivering on business priorities. Recognizing that successful risk management hinges on using data as a course corrector, leaders must unify data access with analytic enablement across the entire business landscape. This translates to training people with the right tools and capabilities- allowing all employees to use data and quickly make data-driven decisions.

In a business environment awash with crises, good information, good data, and the ability to use analytics to make good decisions are more important than ever. By embracing accessible cloud-based analytics to democratize data and bridge the skills gap, domain experts - the people best placed to predict and prevent risk- can collaborate to analyze the data, and gain insights needed to see around corners and meet potential threats head-on.

The ability to see around corners and find new ways to predict and prepare for the next significant threat is no longer a pipe dream, it's a business priority- one that's imperative for enterprises to thrive in 2023. Upskilling employees with analytic capabilities ensures they can make data-driven decisions with speed- Alteryx's 2023 State of Cloud Analytics Report confirms this. Four out of five respondents believed cloud analytics would positively impact economically uncertain times.

Harnessing data-driven insights for risk resilience

Data science and decision intelligence are deeply intertwined, with one fueling the other. But to be effective, decision intelligence must be supported by a strong foundation consisting of data availability, diverse human intelligence, and accessible analytics. To do so, organizations need to cultivate a culture where decisions and strategies are fueled by data, and driven by employees at all levels.

Only by bridging the data science skills gaps through low-code, no-code solutions will non-technical domain experts across every department feel empowered to solve by developing analytical insights in real-time. This data-driven culture of decision-making will enable businesses to navigate the perils of the permacrisis environment, reduce risk, and build resilience for long-term success.

Related: The Importance Of Continuous Learning In The Era Of Artificial Intelligence

Alan Jacobson

Chief Data and Analytics Officer, Alteryx

Alan Jacobson is the Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Alteryx. Alteryx delivers easy end-to-end automation of data engineering, analytics, reporting, machine learning, and data science processes, enabling enterprises everywhere to democratize data analytics across their organizations for a broad range of use cases.  
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