The biggest BI predictions for 2018: Collaboration will be key

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The creation, collection and application of big data has influenced business decisions more than ever this year and, if advances in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and enterprise applications continue, 2018 will be even bigger.

The latest Forrester Research report predicts that 2018 will see enterprises move beyond the hype to provide better human and machine collaboration, enhancing business intelligence and analytics solutions by moving resources to the cloud. There will also be new AI capabilities facilitating the redesign of analytics and data management roles, and the emergence of the insights-as-a-service market. Here, we delve deeper into the biggest business intelligence trends of 2018: 

1. The rise of the good robots   

Forrester predicts that 70% of enterprises will implement AI over the next year – up from 40% in 2016 and 51% in 2017. AI and machine learning will elevate the role of data analysts, enabling them to crunch more data and automate some tasks so they can focus on higher value ones. While technology can replace all tasks, it’s the combination of technology and human interaction that will produce the best results. Redesigning the processes for managing computers will bring the most success and only humans can do that. 

2. Data empowerment – everyone within an organisation will be a data analyst 

While the move to modern Business Intelligence (BI) has made data analytics accessible, today’s users expect to access BI via a mobile device, customise the interface and information to their specific needs and swiftly target relevant data. Data visualisation in the form of a dashboard can give every level of user access to top level targeted information and real-time reporting to enable them to get a better understanding of the business, with the functionality to drill down to specific details. Combining graphs and charts with powerful business analytics means users can immediately see how their organisation is doing in real-time, and harness opportunities.   

3. Voice recognition: speaking the language of data analytics 

Forrester predicts that 25% of forward-thinking enterprises will supplement point-and-click analytics with conversational interfaces. Querying data using natural language and delivering resulting visualisations in real-time will become standard features of analytical applications, with AI instructing employees on what to say and do. This could see link ups between dashboards and tools like Alexa and Cortana to enable people that don’t necessarily know the ‘language of data analytics’ to work more efficiently. This brings the benefits of big data analytics down to the user level. After all, knowing what data you need, where to get it, and what to do with it once you have it is not a skill set everyone possesses.   

4. Huge rise in Information Commissioner's Office fines 

Next year will see firms begin to see the value in data to improve the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance. While the GDPR comes into force in May, recent research by W8 Data found just 25% of existing customer data meets the specified requirements, meaning firms are likely to be caught out. The regulation requires organisations to know precisely where they hold every single piece of personal data. Therefore, the ability to pull data from various sources into a dashboard, and understand it, is more important than ever. Centralising data in a dashboard gives users one, real-time version of the truth, highlighting any discrepancies in data collection and the explicit consent surrounding personal information.   

5. Adoption of a cloud-first strategy for data analytics

Forrester expects 50% of enterprises to embrace a public-cloud-first policy in 2018 for data, big data and analytics, as they look for more control over costs and more flexibility than on-premises software can deliver. A cloud-first strategy for data analytics will enable people to store data, ensure GDPR compliance and give access to information on the go.   

6. The rise of ‘Insights as a Service’ 

BI is a tool and, like most tools, its effectiveness depends on the abilities of the people who use them. As a result, an increasing number of companies are outsourcing their BI. Deloitte’s 2016 Global Outsourcing Survey noted that 72% of organisations outsource some of their IT for cost cutting, enabling focus on core business operations, driving broader digital transformation, and reducing failure rates. Forrester predicts up to 80% of firms will rely on insights service providers for some portion of their insights capabilities in 2018. 

7. More SMEs will use big data

It’s no longer just big budget firms that are benefiting from big data’s potential. The coming year will see big data help small and midsize firms learn about customers’ buying habits, motivations, preferences and what makes them enthusiastic and loyal fans. This will assist them in getting in front of the curve with marketing, advertising, CRM, and customer service and enable them to make improvements in the way things are done.   

8. Increase in data analytics training

According to a recent PwC study, 69% of employers will demand data science and analytics skills from job candidates by 2021. Glassdoor also reported that data science, for the second consecutive year, was a “top job”. But there’s a reality gap. Its report also cites that only 23% of college graduates will have the necessary skills to compete at the level employers demand. The Autumn Budget pledged over £500m for a series of digital, data and technology projects, citing the world is “on the brink of a technological revolution”. The government will also create a retraining programme aiming to give people the skills they need, and equipping young people with the science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) skills to become innovators of the future. The government also intends to establish the world’s first national advisory body for AI – allocating £9m to a centre for data ethics and innovation, to “ensure safe, ethical and ground-breaking innovation in AI and data-driven technologies”. This reiterates the message that data analysis is now part of everyone’s life. 

The bottom line? 2018 will see many developments promising to lead organisations into an era where data analysis is the foundation for all business decisions. However, readiness to adopt any new technology will be determined by accessibility and the ability and willingness of end users to adopt new innovations. With this one of the biggest challenges facing BI, dashboards are therefore the ideal solution to help organisations reap the rewards of the coming year’s tech innovations.     

Robert Dagge, Managing Director at Dynistics 

Image Credit: Bamenny / Pixabay