This article covers business intelligence trends. For a more in-depth look, check out our whitepaper: Top Business Intelligence Trends for 2017. You can read the abridged version below or download the whitepaper here.
Change is coming. And for most businesses, it can’t get here fast enough. But are you ready for better business intelligence? Here’s what to expect.
1. Business Data Will Reach New Levels of Complexity
More users than ever before are taking advantage of BI systems. And they’re going all-in. In a report by Howard Dresner, President, Founder, and Chief Research Officer at Dresner Advisory Services, more than 81% of business organizations reported having plans to roll out BI more fully in the years leading up to 2019.
What’s exciting about this growth is that IT and upper management NIL no longer leading it. Frontline departments like R&D, sales, and marketing are getting in on the action, taking advantage of the growing opportunities BI has to offer.
As more diverse users demand access to business analytics, organizations will need to interact with vast amounts of data from a wider variety of sources. It’s fast. It’s exciting. It’s A LOT to manage. And IT simply can’t keep up.
The solution? Simplify. According to Ani Manian, Head of Product Strategy at Sisense, “Data complexity will be the primary barrier standing between you and your ability to use BI on a day-to-day basis.” Business teams must be able to consume data insights — anytime, anywhere quickly.
2. New BI Tools Will Liberate Users (and IT)
Leading organizations will rely on fewer, better tools to achieve new levels of user-friendly utility.
What will this look like? Take, for example, the traditional monolithic dashboard.As data sources become more diverse and fragmented, organizations will say goodbye to rigid dashboards and ‘Hello! Where have you been all my life?’ to dynamic, customized dashboards created through the atomization, deconstruction, and rebuilding of current tools.
We’ll also see a big increase in the use of bots, natural language analytics, and smart devices to make data insights as ubiquitous as possible. Getting prepped for a big video conference? Don’t wait for Joe from Marketing to get back to you with the info you need. Ask Amazon Echo and instantly get your answer through Alexa. This kind of user self-service will finally become a reality (and IT will finally get some reprieve).
And that’s not all. Embedded analytics will take this a step further by enabling greater cross-departmental collaboration. Forget migraine-inducing reply-all email chains. With embedded analytics in business apps, users will be able to annotate various objects in a dashboard or chart and use these tools to build an interactive presentation and share their analysis in a way other teams, or even external stakeholders can understand.
That’s right. Your customer support team can walk customers through their answers step-by-step using annotated screen grabs, gifs, and more. It’s business storytelling. No PowerPoint needed.
3. Machines Will Keep Getting Smarter
We can’t talk about BI without talking about AI. (Sorry, we just can’t.) As one of the top trending business topics of 2016, AI and machine learning will stay in center focus. And, despite your AI headline fatigue, that’s great news. In a BI context, machine learning brings perhaps the most potential for transformation.
Here’s what it can mean for your business today:
· Your BI system gets smarter and faster as more users engage with it.
· Past queries inform new queries, delivering faster answers or even predicting your needs.
· Natural language query gives you immediate answers wherever you are.
Here’s what it can mean for your business tomorrow:
· Natural language generation uses the written or spoken word to create prose, text, or documents.
· Neural networks draw insights from unlabeled data and learn without human supervision.
· Deep learning transforms massive amounts of data into valuable competitive insights.
So, yes. There’s quite a bit of hype surrounding AI, but for a good reason. This year, expect to see its practical applications become even clearer as integration efforts start to prove their worth.
4. The Rise of the Information Democracy
Noticing a trend yet? The future of BI is all about users.
From sales and marketing teams to customers and suppliers — today’s business organizations have a much larger BI population than ever before. Dresner, who coined the term business intelligence back in 1989, has also given us another great term: Information Democracy.
According to Dresner, “We’re moving more toward that notion of an information democracy, which is a great way of aligning people with the strategy of the organization, getting more eyes on the data than ever before, informing performance and letting fact-based business analysis inform their roles.”
And smaller organizations won’t be left out of the party.Cloud analytics is leveling the playing field, providing unmatched access to SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses). Add in user-friendly SaaS applications, and you’ve got a great BI solution that even the smallest organizations can use to outperform the competition.
5. BI Will Separate the Winners from the Losers
Noel Poler, CTO at EREA Consulting spends his time helping Latin America’s largest retail chains deploy business analytics systems. According to Poler, “[Business intelligence] will be a competitive tool. No industry is immune to this disruption.” And most businesses know it. But are they ready for change?Unfortunately, business culture doesn’t evolve as quickly as technology.
Business organizations must be ready to invest in BI expertise and create a culture of collaboration to reap the rewards BI can offer really. On the flipside, integrating a BI system can be just what’s needed to reshape your business culture. Ever notice how people hear better when you let numbers do the talking? Proactive businesses will use BI to create an environment of collaboration and efficiency within the organization, empowering users to transform data into competitive insights. Expect to see a rise in full-stack BI solutions as more organizations see the value of scaling across users, sources, and departments to deliver data-driven insights at record speed.