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Business Intelligence Trends: How has BI evolved?

By Naveen Miglani, CEO and Co-Founder at SplashBI

September 7 2019 - The last few years have seen Business Intelligence (BI) change dramatically. Data not only became big, but King and the rise of cloud computing meant that spreadsheets resigned to take a backseat to interactive dashboards that would enable data not become not just insightful, but actionable. These changes also meant that advanced analytics suddenly became far more accessible; not just for the analysts but for the Finance Executive, HR Director and Marketing Manager.

Sifting through mountains of data by hand soon became a thing of the past, with the use of technology able to simplify the process of gathering data, compiling and analysing data, translating it into useful information and then making strategic decisions based on the results. Throughout the process, the recurring trend in next-generation BI tools is simplicity. The introduction of self-service analytics platforms means that BI technology can be used to alleviate the stress and labour hours of gathering, sorting and using data to make informed business decisions. The BI industry is certainly one that hasn't been afraid of change, but how have these changes affected businesses in the last few years, and what further changes can the industry expect?

Data-driven culture

The use of self-service analytics has consistently been at the top of the BI trend predictions leaderboard. This movement has been successful in putting data back in the hands of individual teams, departments and leaders in the organisation, without needing to rely on the 'data expert' to gain insights. Instead, self-service analytics enables users to gain the deeper insights they need to drive data-focused initiatives across the whole organisation, demonstrating value in an instant and providing reports whenever required, all without the reliance on the IT department.

In tandem, the movement towards self-service analytics has led to more organisations shifting towards adopting a data-driven culture. With data at the core of the organisation, the process of implementing a BI tool is no longer a daunting task. Acceptance of data as an integral part of business operations means that implementation and adoption time has been cut in half. Organisations across the globe are now using sophisticated visualisations and dashboards to tell their data story, without the use of a huge amount of IT resources. The power of data is put back in the hands of users and organisations are able to become far more efficient as a result.

Starting at the beginning

With the data-driven organisation came the integration of new technology with existing BI processes to create an even bigger data picture and unite data from separate applications or data stores. On top of this, 2017 saw many organisations migrate to the cloud, due to advanced security and accessibility; machine learning increased revenue for businesses by tracking buyer behaviour and analysing databases faster than ever before and above all, AI became more prominent, with trials beginning to determine if AI could eventually replace human data scientists altogether.

In 2018, once the value of using a BI tool had become a given, the question was then about which tool to use and many organisations began the quest of finding the right tool to fit their unique and specific needs. By starting at the beginning and examining which questions they wanted the BI tool to answer, organisations were able to better understand not only how they could achieve their business goals, but departmental or even project goals. From improving employee retention to measuring turnover, or seeing which product drove the highest volume of sales in Q1, organisations can ask the right questions that only drive departmental results, but business-wide change.

Of course, BI has never been a one-size-fits-all solution - or answer - which is why it works so perfectly in an organisation with various departments that all have different data to work from. For example, the product development team won't need the same campaign spend report that the marketing team will use to create the next month's budget. In fact, these custom data reports guided businesses in the direction of the most important metrics; whether it's HR, Marketing, Sales or Finance.

The evolution of BI

We've seen that BI and data analytics technology has constantly evolved, and in reality the technology shows no sign of slowing down. Figures show that by the end of 2019, the Global BI and Analytics market is expected to surpass $20 billion, showing that it is set to make data of any kind easy to digest with visualisations, detailed historical analysis and customisable reports for many organisations across the globe, from a wide range of sectors. Sectors including retail, construction, healthcare, banking and transportation are expected to make up the majority of new adopters, witnessing how the way data is created and handled can make dramatic changes to an organisation's operations and revenues.

The future is bright for BI as it continues to evolve. What might have started as a tool for simply identifying patterns in a set of data has now become a robust, real-time solution that is successfully transforming organisations to be data-driven and data-centric. With the ability to now not only see a snapshot in time but the entire picture, BI enables companies to make actionable decisions using their own data, reaching business goals, achieving growth and becoming more profitable as a result.


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