Top trends in business intelligence for 2017

When it comes to data analytics, today’s innovators understand that Business Intelligence is about more than just reporting. While there is still an important role for data scientists, there is growing demand for every knowledge worker to analyse data on their own, whenever and wherever needed.  Businesses that can leverage and take advantage of self-service analytics at scale are the ones seeing a transformative shift in their analytics culture. 

It’s therefore no surprise that 2016 saw a wave of self-service visual analytics sweep across the enterprise sector.  Businesses are bringing visual analytics capabilities to their own employees but also externally – to their customers – helping people gain important insights, from understanding sales cycles to spending trend; from customer adoption rates to forecasting.  The self-service movement is just beginning and the possibilities are endless.  

Here are the top trends in BI we see for 2017: 

Data analytics for one and all

Like most things, many heads are better than one when it comes to data analytics. IT departments have been quick to adopt new technologies, and long gone are the days where IT pros are spending time on sharing data via static PDFs or PowerPoint decks to relevant teams. Instead, all employees are now able to share live, interactive workbooks and data sources to help drive business decisions quickly and easily, thanks to the availability of visual analytics and the power of self-service. 

Analytics are everywhere, as BI becomes embedded

Data analytics works best when it’s a natural part of people’s workflow. In 2017, we expect that analytics will become pervasive and in turn, businesses will expect analytics to inform every decision. This will put analytics into the hands of the people who have not traditionally consumed data – from nurses and doctors, to store managers and call-centre workers – to make data-driven decisions. Additionally, implementing BI will extend the reach and ease of use of visual analytics to the point that people may not even realise they’re working with data at all. 

IT becomes the data hero

For decades, IT departments remained mired in the endless churn of building reports to support data requests from the business.  This wastes not only time, but is not scalable with the growing data needs of businesses today.  Now, IT is at the helm of the transformation to self-service analytics at scale.  With IT working more closely with the business to ensure a better understanding of data analytics, while also providing governance and security of the data, this will be something that all employees will benefit from.

Data gravity goes into the cloud

With businesses moving their data to the cloud, the idea that data analytics should also live in the cloud will become the norm. Next year, we predict that data gravity – in which all of the data that needs to be correlated for analysis moves to the location of the largest data set – will encourage businesses to deploy their analytics wherever their data lives. As this trend continues, cloud data warehouses such as Amazon Redshift will continue to be a popular data destination.  While many organisations will continue to deploy a hybrid architecture of cloud and on-premise solutions, cloud analytics will increasingly represent a faster and more scalable solution.

Data analytics becomes the new skill in town

In 2016, LinkedIn listed statistical analysis and data mining as one of the hottest skills for candidates to get hired. With the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) revealing that growth in big data analytics and the Internet of Things will add an estimated £322 billion to the UK economy by 2020, not to mention create 182,000 jobs, investing in skills such as BI is vital to the country’s future. In 2017, we expect data analytics to become not only the ‘new’ skill to have, but a critical core competency for professionals of all types. To ensure that when this happens, there is a skilled workforce ready to go, education institutions will create and expand new programmes to include data analytics – using the latest technologies to do this.

What’s the connective tissue in these predicted trends?  Data and self-service technology are driving change in business, and it’s happening fast.  Conversations about data have shifted from ‘why it matters’ to ‘what to do with it’, and this will continue in 2017 as more businesses make a cultural shift to self-service data analytics across departments. 

James Eiloart, SVP EMEA,Tableau Software
Image Credit: Sergey Nivens / Shutterstock