COVID-19, Cloud Technology, and Network Analytics

network_analytics

Last week, we kicked off a series that aims to expand on the implications of COVID-19 on the future of business and cloud technology. We gathered insights from experts across various industries to learn more about the strategies they’ve been applying to demonstrate resilience in the face of this pandemic, and about the effects this crisis will have on digitalization. In this week’s article, we dive deeper into the world of network analytics.

Network analytics? Let’s unpack that. Network analytics uses a combination of science, various artificial intelligence (AI) and automation technologies to examine different types of network data, be they social, digital, or other, and how they develop and interact. It uses these observations to identify important trends and enables businesses to make data-driven decisions that can improve the efficiency and productivity of their operations. 

We asked network science expert Peter Ruppert to elaborate on what he believes to be the main areas companies should focus on when building their strategy to move forward. Ruppert is one of the co-founders of Maven7 and Scipher Medicine, as well as the EIR at Northeastern University’s world-renowned network science research lab. His work has him at the forefront of connections, technology, and business innovation.

How businesses build strategies around uncovering connections in their data and optimizing them is crucial to their success in the recovery phase of this pandemic; cloud technology is one of the keys to unlocking this success. Ruppert stated that in the wake of this crisis, he and his teams of scientists and business experts are paying close attention to the following parameters.

Bandwidth (both Internet and attention)

The roll-out of 5G is experiencing delays, and now the world is experiencing what it’s like when hundreds of thousands of customers use online services at the same time, he stated. The strain is immense. This situation is likely here for the long term, especially with schools adopting e-learning and the massive increase in the numbers of employees working from home. He added that during this time, running algorithms throughout APIs will be put to the test for reliability and resilience.

Ruppert mentioned that marketing has to adapt to this new norm as well. Influencers, as well as online ads, are starting to decline in effectiveness, whereas SEO and content placement is coming back. It is still unsure what customer behavior will look like post-crisis but what is sure, he said, is there will be a need for new models and a lot of computational power to find and engage with the right segments in the new state of “normal.” 

Cost

Ruppert explained that VMs and IaaS are computationally expensive nowadays. “Cloud will be a great winner in this pandemic.” However, he added that more SaaS and PaaS solutions will be necessary to reduce company costs and investment needs. Ruppert believes this will be truly valuable for the next generation of start-ups filling the gap in hard-hit industries such as the restaurant, entertainment industries, and more. “This, we hope, will also mean that we do not need to invest in any more expensive computers and laptops, but [instead use] screens back home on the employee side, with [everything] directed and orchestrated in the cloud.” This, he continued, would generate a lot of savings and free up budgets to hire new employees or innovate inefficient processes.

Apps and behavior 

“We clearly see that large supply chains will be impacted to a level where the state has to take larger control to make sure that we maintain healthy access to the necessary goods such as food or electricity,” Ruppert said. Working closely with companies in the food sector in particular, he states that it is already clear “that [the industry] will need to change even faster than most industries”. Governments and bigger corporations will have to be more data-driven, requiring more scenario-planning capabilities, he continued, circling back to the food sector to elaborate: “For the food supply chain, this is a must. We will have to feed a population estimated to be over 10 billion by 2050, and the harvest season for tomatoes in California is not going to be longer than 6 weeks, whatever happens. So better data, better and faster predictions, and a transparent and resilient supply chain system is necessary. All that in the cloud.” 

Today, businesses will need to be more proactive than ever before if they want to stay ahead. To stay competitive, it will be even more necessary to understand and analyze incoming data in real time, test assumptions accurately, and deliver new solutions faster than yesterday. If businesses equip themselves with the proper strategies and technologies that aid in identifying connections, acting on them, and optimizing them, they will set themselves up for success not just in the coming months, but for the long term.