Summary: Driven by new technologies and data growth, the BI landscape is shifting dramatically from traditional BI solutions of the past. These changes create amazing opportunities for those who jump on board. In this article, you’ll learn more about why BI is changing and where it’s heading.
By now, you’ve heard all of the research surrounding the rapid growth of data. You know that businesses have access to more data than ever before, and it’s only growing.
The real question: What are you doing about it?
The problem is, too many businesses can’t answer that question. They find the data overwhelming, essentially becoming “data rich, but insight poor.” They have access to valuable data but aren’t using it to their advantage.
How can you capitalize on your data?
First, set up a successful BI/analytics practice in your organization. Of course, that’s easier said than done. I won’t get into all of the details here, as it’s a topic I’ve covered in the past. Here’s an article that provides tips to maximize the value of your business data. Here’s another one that covers common BI problems to avoid.
Second, stay on top of the BI trends. Emerging technology offers some great opportunities in the world of BI. Those that capitalize on these trends early can gain a competitive advantage.
What BI trends should you watch in the coming year? Today, we’ll explore a few and explain why they’re important. Here are 5 big BI trends to watch in 2018.
1. Increased use of AI
Artificial Intelligence is one of the biggest trends to hit BI/analytics, and it’s only getting started. Why will it be so important? It’s driven by the convergence of a few different trends, creating a perfect storm for AI. Here are a few trends that are driving AI:
First, we have the data explosion. Businesses have more data than they can handle, and are struggling to turn it into anything useful.
Second, we have the talent gap. As data volumes have risen, analytic skills haven’t kept up. Research finds there’s a global shortage of data scientists.
Third, we have advancements in AI technology. It’s getting more powerful and more accessible, putting it within reach of the average company.
Fourth, we have the growing need for instant insights. Businesses don’t want to wait around while analysts try to pull insights out of data. They want answers right away!
When you combine all of these trends, they create the perfect opening for AI in Business Intelligence. In the coming years, this is a trend you can’t ignore.
“We expect to see more large enterprise organizations leverage artificial Intelligence in 2018,” says Patrick Taylor, CEO of Oversight Systems. “Finding ways to optimize this vast amount of information so it can be visible and useful, isn’t easy but it is imperative to business growth. AI solutions have the ability to analyze huge amounts of data and spot patterns that the human eye can’t see. By getting the data to a visible point and automate many parts of the business including travel and expense, procure to pay and purchase card. AI helps find and stop misuse, fraud,and threats in the business. AI learns over time to improve current processes and delivers better-informed decisions and actionable insights.”
2. Analytics that fit into a multi-cloud world
Businesses are embracing cloud computing in a big way. According to IDC, cloud computing spending is expected to grow by 19% per year from 2015 to 2020.
However, this presents a growing challenge for Business Intelligence. As cloud adoption grows, business data becomes more spread out. Some data resides on premise, some data lives on the public cloud, and other data lives on the private cloud.
Going forward, we’ll see cloud adoption grow. As explained below, this is driving another big BI trend: The move towards cloud-based analytics.
“I expect the transition to cloud technology to accelerate in 2018,” says Brad M. Shaw, President and CEO, Dallas Web Design Inc. “With companies migrating their data to the cloud, the realization that analytics should also live in the cloud will become commonplace. In 2018, data gravity will push organizations to deploy their analytics where their data is. Cloud data warehouses like Azure will continue to be massively popular data destinations, and cloud analytics will become more commonplace as a result. While many companies will continue to deploy a hybrid architecture of cloud and on-premise solutions, cloud analytics will increasingly represent a solution that allows for future scalability.”
Here’s an important takeaway from this trend: BI/Analytics must be approached from a multi-cloud standpoint. Any BI solution you deploy must run on-premise and in the cloud, and port easily between the two. It must have the ability to pull data from multiple locations and transform it into a usable format. This will keep your company from getting handcuffed by limited BI solutions.
3. Real-time stream processing
Over the last few years, we’ve seen a data explosion. Businesses now have access to more data than ever before…and it isn’t slowing down. As IoT continues to grow, so will the data avalanche.
The problem: This data isn’t very valuable unless you can quickly turn it into meaningful management information.
In the coming years, real-time data processing will become essential. Businesses must focus on technologies that turn their steady flow of data into meaningful information. As explained below, two technologies to watch in this area are massively parallel processing and edge analytics.
“Massively parallel processing (MPP) data warehouse can crunch the numbers on the DW level, but then push out information,” says Andrew Pearson, Founder and Managing Partner of Intelligencia Limited. “Edge analytics can also crunch the numbers at the data source and then alert whomever needs to be alerted when something important is discovered.”
4. Self-service acceptance and growth
Over the past few years, we’ve seen the growth of self-service analytics. Businesses are moving away from the traditional BI process, where everything ran through the IT department. Now, the BI landscape is shifting to self-service.
How big is this shift? Gartner recently made waves in the BI industry when they revamped their BI magic quadrant criteria. The move towards business-user-centric platforms forced a new market perspective, and reordered the entire landscape.
However, as self-service analytics grows, so will end user’s proficiency with the tools. They’ll soon move on from simple reports and dashboards and into more complex analytics. As explained below, we’ll start to see users push the boundaries of their current solutions.
“Business users are growing very comfortable with BI tools and are now going to start to push the boundaries of data ingestion and data analytics,” says Pearson.
5. The move to storytelling
Executives don’t have the time to sort through data and find insights. They want a snapshot of the data–usually in dashboard form. They want to glance at the summarized data and glean the insights they need.
This is good in theory but often fails in practice. Why? The summarized data doesn’t provide insights. Most dashboards still rely on the executive to pull the insights out by themselves.
This article over on Occam’s Razor explains why this creates a problem:
“People who are closest to the data, the complexity, who’ve actually done lots of great analysis, are only providing data. They don’t provide insights and recommendations.
People who are receiving the summarized snapshot top-lined have zero capacity to understand the complexity, will never actually do analysis and hence are in no position to know what to do with the summarized snapshot they see.
The end result? Nothing.”
In short, you can’t rely on the executives to pull insights out of data. After all, they aren’t as familiar with the data as the analyst that put it together.
What’s the answer? Provide written insights, actions, and business impact on your dashboards. This image from the article shared above provides a great example.
Not only does this dashboard share graphs and charts, it tells the executive a story. It tells them how the data will impact the business, and recommends action. This is a dashboard that improves decision-making, and the type of analytics that I believe we’ll see more and more of in the coming years.
“Business Intelligence will take some turns in 2018, with a turn towards more AI and an embracing of Liberal Art’s majors,” says Lindsey Havens, Senior Marketing Manager for Phishlabs. “The analytics industry will seek more skilled data workers, but that talent may be come from a different field of study. It’s well-known that storytelling has helped influence the data analytics industry, but what be a surprise is how the technical aspects of creating analytical dashboards, former handled by IT and power users, is now being taken over by users who can tell a story and possess skill sets primarily coming found within liberal arts.”
These are just 5 BI trends to watch in 2018, but the list could be much longer. If you would like to add anything to this list, I’d love to hear it. Feel free to share in the comments.