The acceleration of digital projects across Australia this year has brought with it a wave of new data. The next challenge for organisations is using that data to innovate and support the new business models COVID-19 has ushered in.

That’s according to Amazon Web Services, the market leading cloud vendor responsible for the storing and processing of much of the new data.

AWS executives say early movers are reaping the rewards of using that data to drive customer experiences while others will set loose machine learning algorithms on the new data heaps.

“What we’re seeing in 2021 is a business opportunity in data analytics,” says Toni Knowlson, digital innovation lead at AWS Australia and New Zealand.

“There’s never been more services, it’s never been easier to access, you’ve never had more data. It’s about organisations understanding how they can use that data and being able to quickly mobilise to get feedback from the customers.”

The problem in Australia, according to Deloitte research commissioned by AWS, is most organisations have relatively low maturity levels when it comes to data insights. The report, released in September, found 60 per cent of Australian organisations have only a basic or beginner level of data maturity, meaning that most businesses are leaving money on the table by not leveraging their data.

However, AWS says some organisations were able to leverage data in 2020, when COVID effectively forced the digitisation of products and services, alongside a newly remote workforce.

Cosmetics retailer Mecca, for example, was able to bring some of its highly regarded in store experiences online, according to Knowlson, by personalising emails.

“It’s a really tried and true channel – email marketing – but they added something as simple as a recommended product in their email through personalised off the shelf algorithms from us, and increased click through by 65 per cent.

“If you’re a marketer that’s enormous. And they increased revenue of the recommended item sell by about the same.”

Predicting the future

Jeff Barr, AWS’s chief evangelist, agrees data and analytics will be a challenge for more businesses but it is not necessarily new one.

Barr tells Which-50 that many AWS customers have been accumulating troves of data for the best part of a decade, and are always looking to translate it into business outcomes.

“I don’t think they’re new challenges but they may be faced by a bigger audience than ever before,” he says.

According to Barr, the challenge can be a welcome because the scale of new data means it can be used in more interesting ways.

“You can think of some of this data as being wonderful fodder, if you will, for various kinds of machine learning algorithms, so great training data.

“The more training data you have, almost universally the better job you can do at producing great models to help you understand and predict the future.”

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