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Six trends shaping the world of BI

We are halfway through 2016 and technological growth is powering ahead with no signs of slowing down. With such momentum, the question is not whether data development is moving but where the specific growth areas are that will transform the current status quo in the coming year. Even in a time of ongoing upheaval, some factors remained unchanged.

BI and analytics were still the “#1 investment priority for CIOs” in 2015, according to Gartner. Broader use of predictive analytics remains an aspirational goal for most companies. Suboptimal data quality continues to be problematic. The requirement for information governance is high, but maturity is lower than it needs to be. These are a few trends that remained constant in 2015.

Here are the top six trends that we foresee developing within the BI industry as we head further into 2016.

Data consumers are transforming into information activists

Rather than just consuming information, users are now engaging in data prep and profiling. An obvious outcome of this information activism is how people are using visual data discovery to explore not just business data, but topics that interest them personally. As a result, visualisation is now becoming a form of self-expression.

By creating visual apps, users are expressing their views and learning about themselves through being actively engaged with the growing volumes of data. You can see this trend in the rise of the quantified-self movement at an individual level and data-driven journalism in the mass media, altering how people are using public data to understand how society works.

Governed data discovery becomes essential

Self-service BI is the new normal — but that doesn’t mean anarchy. With more data out there, users want to become more self-sufficient in creating their own analyses rather than relying on others, but this means they need to work in a managed data space. As such, governed data discovery is becoming a top priority. Within a framework of governance, users will focus their energy on getting insights from their analyses. They’re able to ask “why?” multiple times, rather than question whether the data is correct. When everyone is using the same information, more efficient, accurate decisions are made.

Big data moves beyond hype to pragmatism

In 2016 we’ll get past the big data hype, as more organisations start to apply some of the long standing practice of data analytics to data sources that used to fall outside of the BI space. Rather than treating new data sources as unfamiliar and novel, data usage is evolving into a richer and complex landscape from various sources, enabling the use of practical, variant data use cases. After all, the maximum decision value is in the nodes where traditional BI data — say, financial transactions — and big data are melded together.

Data from external sources gives better context

Enabling users to see a broad range of factors contributing to their business is becoming more important than ever. With the ability to combine both internal and external data sources, users now have access to more context around their data, which ultimately leads to more insights and better decisions. Adding socio-demographic or location data to analysis easily and quickly can help organizations de-risk some of their management choices.

More data storytelling equals more engagement

People routinely tell stories in work tasks. In fact, when making a proposal to a group, 86 percent almost always or often take time to “lay out what has happened previously,” and 80 percent almost always or often take time to “project forward or to predict possible outcomes.”

Storytelling not only personalises the task at hand, but it can also make it more memorable, impactful, and relevant for those that hear it. In 2016, there will no longer be an excuse to “take that offline.” People will use interactive storytelling to deliver information in a more compelling way that prompts them to take action in the moment, when the insight emerges.

A screen in the hand is worth two on the desk

Mobility is becoming more important than ever for data users. This means that enabling multi-device lensing of BI and analytics will gain importance. Australian smartphone penetration approached 85% by mid-2015, while surveys have shown that about 60% of respondents have a tablet. These overall figures are forecast to rise in 2016 as a greater number of competitively priced units hit the market and as LTE networks increase their coverage.

Having unlimited access to their data can help users ask “why?” any time, and find the answer quickly. BI and visualisation solutions that don’t support users moving from device to device, often and at speed, will not deliver the kinds of experience that people want.