The future is coming… fast! At least when you’re talking about advances in technology, it is. Business Intelligence (BI) is no exception. The introduction of BI wasn’t all that long ago for most of us, and its evolution is proceeding at a frantic pace. The rapid advancements are, in large part, due to the immense value BI provides. As game-changing use cases and success stories continue to emerge, so do new ideas for enhancements, innovations and next-level analytic functions.
Most companies traditionally thought of business intelligence as a central data warehouse that only a select few IT experts could access. Gathering intelligence or reporting from the data required a request to one of those individuals. This once-common process is now insufficient and simply doesn’t provide the level of efficiency that competitive companies demand today.
With the advent of BI tools, companies have improved their agility by increasing user independence from IT departments. Specifically, with self-service BI, business users can carry out a number of analyses and report building without reliance on the support of an IT team. For each role, self-service BI provides the ability to conduct applicable tasks as assigned.
This trend is gaining so much traction that Gartner predicts citizen data scientists will surpass data scientists in the amount of advanced analysis produced by 2019. Citizen data scientists refers to business users that can produce their own BI output without the help of IT.
Following the thought of self-service BI, is accessibility. Not only will companies need the technical capabilities to offer self-service to business users, but they will also need to carefully assign access and permissions per user and per role. It will be critical to provide those that need access with that capability, and just as important not to allow the same access to those who should not have it. It’s no surprise that security will become a focus within BI considering the proprietary information in play.
Data Discovery & Visualizations
Data visualizations are depictions of information that summarize and explain complex data. Effective visualizations require much more than creating impressive graphics. They must be created in such a way that it tells a story and conveys key points. If data analysts are the only ones that can tell you what the graphics mean, the intent behind using visualizations was not achieved.
Business owners need more efficient ways for decision-makers to absorb and act on data. The next level of BI tools will facilitate clear and concise visualizations that convey the correct messages from the data in a way that everyone can comprehend.
Automation & Augmented Analytics
Gartner predicts that 40% of data science tasks will be automated by 2020, and in 2018 you can expect to see the start of this trend. Augmented analytics is the combination of multiple automated steps that will produce clear, actionable answers. Note the word ‘answers,’ not data. Advances in BI tools will bring outputs that contain meaningful, strategy-changing suggestions.
If you want to remain competitive, you’ll need to leverage your data quicker than your competitors, and augmented analytics will be the best way to accomplish this.
Data quality has been voted among the top three problems for BI software users every year since 2002 according to BI-Survey.com. It stands to reason, of course, that if the core data you’re working with can’t be trusted, any revelations you gain from it will not be reliable.
Therefore, the goal is to bring data together from disparate applications or data silos and compile it in a usable system without affecting the validity of the original source data. With the rise in prominence of BI, the importance of data quality is more critical than ever.
These advances in BI, among many others that will emerge, are coming quickly. Data-driven companies will have a significant advantage over their competition in the era of digitization.