Leveraging data to understand shifting trends – Mint

Now, there is a renewed focus on data analytics, cyber fraud and cybersecurity
Access to data-driven insights can help businesses and governments better understand real-time trends for effective policy and strategic decision-making, in a rapidly evolving business and social environment.
The world has been through unprecedented times marked with extended lockdowns and a heightened need for social distancing. It has changed how we live, travel, work, shop and transact.
Many of these changes were short-term. The stringent and sometimes restrictive protocols during the peak of covid-19 are slowly easing towards a ‘new normal’.
Some changes, though, are here to stay. Masking and social distancing are still necessary and the benefits of minimizing human contact have taken root in general behaviour. This is reflected in consumer habits that are leading to potential long-term changes, workplace shifts and a switch in a host of other business and governance areas.
For all businesses too, this period has been a test-bed like no other, requiring them to pause, observe, understand and respond in innovative ways. Organizations are still dealing with the slowdown that covid brought. The challenge has been two-fold—grappling with the slowdown in business, while ensuring that they are at the forefront of digital adoption, meeting the demands on their systems and technology infrastructure created by the pull for digital payments.

looking for answers

This is a one-of-a-kind phase, when almost everyone is looking for answers to questions that are new, and patterns that are not easily evident. The need of the hour is information/data that is timely and relevant. It is by staying up-to-date with current trends, such as new patterns of consumer spending and emerging fintech solutions, that we can tap into data-driven insights that businesses and governments around the world can utilize.
Covid-19 has also precipitated a rapid shift towards contactless and digital payments. With the rise in e-commerce, new-age payment options like QR codes, UPI, Pay by Account, contactless cards and wearables have seen a swift uptake. According to a Mastercard study, 49% of Indian consumers prefer to use less cash for payments. Contactless payments in India grew 15 times over the past 18-20 months, with 77% of participants in the study stating that it is here to stay.
Consumer spending patterns have also changed significantly. Before the pandemic, more than 31% of spending was done on items like apparels, accessories and 24.14% on consumer electronic goods, while groceries took a 17% share. Now, consumers are spending nearly 45% on groceries and food.
In terms of emerging technological trends, covid-19 has accelerated digital adoption and the transition to cloud, with 90% of corporate decision-makers saying that it has been ‘higher’ to ‘significantly higher’ from planned. Another key trend relates to a renewed focus by organizations on cybersecurity, data analytics and cyber-fraud than before.
With a switch to work-from-home, India saw reverse migration on a large scale as people returned to their hometowns to work virtually. The pandemic also saw a rise in job transition with the post-pandemic transition growing by 3.4%. Today, flexible work options that do not affect the quantum and quality of work are the new norm. Further, with employees being more open to join smaller startups, this is posing a bigger challenge in terms of attrition and talent shortages in some fields.

major health concerns

The pandemic has also raised some major health concerns, and as local governments try to tackle this crisis, they are highly dependent on technology for providing virtual medical services. Additionally, travel was clearly among the most-affected sectors, and the gradual resumption to business now takes on a safer, contactless and digitized avatar. For instance, transit authorities around the world have been trying to cut down on cash and physical tickets, especially during local travel. This trend has now picked up pace.
The role of data analytics in how we rethink and reconfigure business processes and policies has been recognized over time. However, this difficult phase has shown the world that leveraging data-led insights can vastly improve our understanding of consumers, and the consequent shifts across industries, governments and the world.
Data can be the most valuable currency in the new reality that continues to unfold. It is time to unlock its potential for growth and overall betterment by business leaders and governments worldwide.
Rajesh Chopra is head and senior vice-president of data and services for Mastercard – South Asia.
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