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Conversational analytics – the age of the citizen analyst

Preethy Padmanabhan Profile picture for user Preethy Padmanabhan October 26, 2021
Data analysts and access to report building tools have traditionally been a constraining factor leading to bottlenecks. Preethy Padmanabhan of Freshworks makes the case for citizen analysts through data democratization.

 group of citizen analysts in conversation concept with results overhead © Mirko Grisendi - Pixabay
(© Mirko Grisendi - Pixabay )

Data democratization might already be a familiar term to most of us, but recent innovation means its long-term, wider impact is only just getting started, particularly in the retail arena. While data democratization provides a central source of data truth, frees up time, helps marketing teams move faster, and allows customer service teams to prioritize requests better, the common constraint has typically been around analytics.

Data analysts are in short supply and already facing large workloads in most organizations. Even the so-called ‘business-friendly’ BI tools still require report building, and data literacy levels in analytics have traditionally been beyond the skillset of the common data citizen user. But all that’s changing as data democracy continues to shape and create a fresh new breed of democratized, conversational generated analytics.

Thanks to a combination of technology innovation, the rise of the no-code approach, Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP), ‘citizen data analysts’ are now becoming a reality. Rather than trying to understand data points and features, employees can use a simple voice or text command to get the intelligence and insights they’re looking for, thanks to state-of-the-art NLP technology that translates simple sentences into data-driven reports. (In other words, think DIY BI where a service agent or marketing manager can literally ask the analytics platform out loud to generate a report without having to build it).

This type of unified analytics approach means reports, metrics, or even personalized widgets are accessible to anyone working anywhere – onsite within the business, at home or on the move. For retailers, it’s a gamechanger at a time when customer service and customer experience expectations are at an all-time high and competitive edge can make the difference between thriving and surviving.

Empowering employees to visualize data and generate reports - whether they’re a business analyst or not - opens up data and insights to employees, with the governance and assurance of keeping the metaphorical ‘guardrails’ on. This means organizations can extend their data beyond the C-suite, enabling employees to generate insights for everyday use, but with access controls and security checks in place.

Our own customers tell us this type of innovative, intuitive analytics saves them more than half of the time they used to spend on trying to build a report. "Freshworks Analytics saves more than half of the time we spent on the report before. I’d even say that up to three quarters of my time has been saved using Freshworks Analytics," said Sarah Jane Pena, Reporting Analyst, Elsevier Technologies.

Retailers, in particular, tell us they can easily customize queries and quickly pull the specific insights they want, and their interactions are “short and sweet with minimal clicks”. Leveraging NLP and Machine Learning also enables organizations to garner insights from unstructured text across various types of data, such as social media, live chat, email or phone for example, accelerating decision making even further.

Empowering the data citizen analyst relies on, or rather demands, data democratization. The concept of democratizing data has become increasingly popular as more organizations realize that data is everyone’s business in a data-driven organization. Ease of use and easy access to insight should be baked into organizational culture. Those that embrace digital transformation, regardless of industry, experience new levels of relevance and success.

Of course, there will always be a role for the more in-depth, highly educated data scientist within organizations, but businesses are adapting and looking to maximize the middle ground. Rather than reskilling or upskilling employees to take on enhanced or complex data roles, organizations can make better use of their data by empowering easier access and easier analytics, which leads to both cost savings through greater efficiency and sharper competitiveness through access and use of that data.

At a time when organizations are under pressure from all sides, we think employees should be equipped to find answers directly from the data themselves, rather than adding to the bottleneck of report requests. As the integration between customer analytics, in-person and online retail channels continues to merge, it’s time to empower citizen data analysts with the insights they deserve.

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