Beyond the BI Tipping Point

This is a guest blog by James Richardson, business analytics strategist at Qlik, and former Gartner analyst

 So what happens now that data discovery is the “new normal”?* Well, I’m no prognosticator – it was the task I always found strangest when I was an industry analyst – but we can make some reasoned guesses by extrapolating current trends forward.

Information activism will continue to grow

The fact is that we now live in a world shaped by data (both at a personal and professional level) and people express themselves through what they do with it. Inside each organisation, users want to be actively engaged with their data; however, few of them have had the technology to effectively do so. In 2015, with true self-service BI, more and more people will move from passively consuming data to actively using it.

Data from external sources will be increasingly used to provide much needed context

Organisations invest in BI to help them ‘make better decisions’, but most BI systems contain only internal data. As a result the decisions that get made based on BI are bereft of external context, and are therefore not likely to yield optimal decision outcomes. Analysts will increasingly add the lacking context through curated data normalized from external sources. Internal-only data myopia is no longer going to be acceptable.

Data discovery usage will get smarter

The shift in BI requirements, moving from reporting-centric to analysis-centric will continue on. Data discovery will begin to make more use of some types of advanced analytics for prediction and optimisation and deliver those analyses in ways that more people can make use of, through richer visualization types, and through sophisticated data navigation.

Governed data discovery becomes an essential

Self-service doesn’t mean there are no rules. The spread of data discovery demands that organisations (and especially their IT management) ensure good governance of how it’s being used, governance that gives them the certainty that the analysis being done with self-service is carried out in a managed framework.

Interactive data story telling will trigger decisions

The most insightful analysis in the world is useless unless it’s communicated to those who are in a position to act on its findings. Telling the story of the analysis is the best way to do that. Data storytelling will become central to how we work, helping to create compelling narratives to convince team members and executives to take action. BI is no longer going to be about collating reports; it’s becoming much more about interactive decision-making. As such, static stories are no good, as they lead to unanswered questions. The option to dive into the data from the story to answer questions in real time is what’s needed. “Let’s take it offline” is an anachronism. Tell the story and debate with data to reach an outcome.

These are just five threads that we see developing. What others do you see?


*Gartner “Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms” by Rita L. Sallam, Bill Hostmann, Kurt Schlegel, Joao Tapadinhas, Josh Parenteau,Thomas W. Oestreich, February 23, 2015.

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