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Business intelligence trends

Lewis Deeley
11/05/18
The value of data seems to get higher and higher – not only in monetary terms but also, as we hear every day on the news, in the context of how it can be harvested for alleged political gain. So the concept of business intelligence (BI), the analysis of data and creating information that organisations can use to make informed commercial decisions, is increasingly important too. BI tools and methodologies facilitate the collection and analysis of data, creating visualisations and reports that can influence corporate strategy or budget plans, as well as predicting or reacting to market activity. 

As technology and software work to simplify business intelligence, the idea of data discovery – where traditionally, the IT expert would create a report based on the request of a decision-maker – is becoming less complicated. End users, rather than analysts, are able to find and look at real-time data and ask relevant questions. Machine intelligence and advances in the way big data is indexed will also result in a wider audience being able to understand complex data sets.

How business leaders see data is crucial to how easily they make key decisions, so visual analytics features (commonly known as dashboards) are increasingly important. Visualisations (charts, graphs or graphics-led presentation), perhaps arranged by market trends or customer profiles, are easier to interpret than columns of figures. These two advances are also known as self-service BI. An ordinary worker, rather than an IT expert, can use a BI tool to analyse live data, create real-time, visually clear reports and make decisions. 

Of course, self-service BI also has its downsides: for example, if some of the data being used to create reports is sensitive, should it be distributed around the organisation? And if each copy of the self-service BI tool needs its own licence, what’s the cost implication?

Unsurprisingly, we’re also seeing a move towards mobile and Cloud-based BI solutions, again capitalising on the real-time availability of data to drive decisions and stay ahead of competitors. However, using the data is only half the story – the quality of data is also crucial. Master data management can collate data from different parts of an organisation that may use different applications or systems, thus ensuring data consistency. Master data management is vital when organisations merge and need to combine data sources. 

In addition, blockchain technology will make its mark in BI: applying blockchain or peer-to-peer ledger processes to data management may one day give users instant awareness of data authenticity.

Read our related blog: Blockchain – is it the future?
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