Big data, artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), and 5G are all transforming the business world — and they’re transforming the Central New York economy in the process. According to a survey by NewVantage Partners, 97.2 percent of C-level executives said their companies are investing in, building or launching big data and AI initiatives. Central New York businesses can capitalize on these changing business trends, and the local economic impact that accompanies them, but only if they can successfully leverage new technological advances while navigating the changing regional labor market.
Harnessing Big-Data Technologies
By embracing big data, large companies across the globe are discovering untapped potential in efficiency, customer experience, and profitability. Now it’s time for mid-size organizations in sectors like health care, social assistance, and retail trade — which account for more than one-fourth of the workforce in Central New York, according to Data USA — to follow suit. Here are some strategies for harnessing intelligent technologies to create a competitive advantage.
Improved business intelligence: Big data allows companies to compile millions of pieces of raw data that is then distilled into information that is useful for predictive, modeling, or scenario analysis. This gives companies unprecedented visibility and insights into work streams, capital cycles, and customer behavioral patterns, which helps them improve planning and forecasting models. Businesses can know when and how much to produce, allowing them to reduce inventory costs and consider future headwinds that may impact the bottom line.
Enhanced customer experience: Big data can help companies better serve their customers using insights gleaned from the customer’s actual actions and preferences. Big data has not only helped make customer service more proactive, but also has allowed companies across various industries to make responsive products and services. In health care, Central New York’s largest industry, a customer-enhanced experience can improve the health of a population by predicting potential health problems and organizing early medical interventions, such as a local flu outbreak.
Big Data and the Workforce
The emergence of big data has also opened doors for new talent opportunities and created a huge demand for a skilled workforce in Central New York. As stated by Data USA, the number of computation jobs in Central New York alone has grown by almost 25 percent since 2013. Governments and universities are working together to help prepare the workforce with the knowledge and skills needed to tackle today’s biggest challenges, and it’s time for companies to react as well.
Demand for skilled talent: While some skeptics of big data believe intelligent technology will eliminate jobs, others argue it creates new jobs for skilled workers. As big data and AI grow, data scientists and big-data experts have become the most highly coveted workers in the IT field. In Central New York, businesses’ need for software development and data manipulation has outpaced their traditional IT needs, like customer service and project management, as reported by the Development Center at Monroe College. With the area unemployment rate hovering at about 4 percent and a strong national economy providing a tailwind, companies are being challenged to win top-skilled talent for these roles. As a result, some companies are trying out non-traditional strategies such as paying for current employees to obtain a higher degree in the data-science field — something many now consider as important as an MBA.
Big data benefits HR: By embracing big data’s predictive and analytical nature, HR departments can make more informed decisions about recruiting, ultimately making better choices for the company. For example, employers can use big data to determine where to distribute resources and find employees with relevant skill sets.
It’s clear that big data and other intelligent technologies pose significant benefits, including competitive agility and consumer satisfaction, but companies must be mindful of potential challenges. To compete in today’s data-driven business landscape, Central New York companies should embrace new technologies to stay ahead of the pack, while taking steps to recruit and retain top-tier data-science talent.
Michael Brunner is Central New York market president for Bank of America.