As companies, we exist in a unique era, a time when the data available and the data being created is growing exponentially. This is a world of big data, raw data, and data warehouses. This influx of data is changing how we do business and guiding improvements in our business models and processes. More often, key decision-makers in business intelligence (BI) are faced with the need to understand vast amounts of data quickly to find insights and position for growth.
This is a serious challenge. The task involves finding both efficient and ingenious applications of growing data using business intelligence tools. While some take the approach that the more data they gather, the more they will be empowered to make hard choices—others cannot fully understand their position from a lack of data quality and analytic know-how. (Still, more have even come to face GDPR requirements that make their handling of intelligence even more complex.)
To help, we address in this post three of the most important business intelligence trends as they may apply to your own, unique business. Observe them, and let them guide you to making your own decisions based on business intelligence if they seem to hold true for your industry.
1) DATA QUALITY AND MASTER DATA
You can only make the right decisions if the data you employ is correct and complete. Without the required quality, data can even be useless or lead your business toward disastrous decisions. For business intelligence users, data quality (prior to data analytics and data analysis) is of the utmost importance.
More and more, business intelligence is looking for data suitable for the issue at hand. It is dependent on your context, but that is not to say that there is no objective standard against which you can measure and evaluate it. Some of the questions being asked in business intelligence include:
- Is my data complete?
- Does my data match my rating criteria?
- Are there duplicate values?
- Is the data consistent across sources?
- Does the data represent the present?
- Does the data capture reality accurately and completely?
While asking these questions of their data, business intelligence users seek to bring together information from disparate sources and applications into an integrated system. This is a response to the growing production of data and the need to produce high-quality information that customers and C-suite players can rely on.
2) DATA DISCOVERY AND VISUALIZATION
Data discovery and visualization are some of the most pressing topics in business intelligence and analytics today. Data discovery, quite simply the process of finding patterns in data sources, is a system in which businesses can navigate data and apply analytics. This involves data preparation in which information is linked together and evaluated as well as presented in a visual representation that allows patterns to be identified.
Through visualization, business intelligence makes the best of our ability to see patterns with our own brains rather than algorithms or functions. We are able to see and understand information better by seeing it represented in graphs and charts. This speeds the process of making decisions for those tasked with it because it gives huge amounts of data a crystallized form on which to easily act.
Engagement in data discovery and visualization is growing steadily. More and more respondents to recent surveys see the process as growing in importance and they plan to implement it in more evaluations over the coming years.
3) DATA-CENTERED CULTURES
The final trend on our list asks the question, “How can we leverage data as an asset on an organizational level?” Even as they engage in expensive processes to collect, evaluate, visualize, and act on data, businesses also seek to create a thriving data-centered culture in their company. While some research shows that such cultures are more productive and produce higher output than their counterparts, the key to becoming data-driven includes many moving parts.
For one, master data is needed to give the company a wellspring to draw from and to compare each other’s decisions. That means that getting high-quality data and storing it is not enough. It needs to be evaluated, vetted, and prepared into a master source that is a singular source of truth. Their culture also needs to be educated on what the data and metrics mean for them. To do this, some companies take the approach of creating data dictionaries while they implement broad access to their data. This improves the literacy of information, and it prepares companies to allow anyone to lend insight into the business.
Data-centered culture is not created in an evening. It is, like the other trends on this list, more of a process than a product. It involves bringing the team to see the data for themselves, understand its applications, and finally be passed on to decision-makers.
The future of business intelligence rests with the quality of data but also the processes that it is put through. By creating master data, visualizing that information, and delivering it to a literate culture, business intelligence is moving toward a horizon that is more informed and able to make important decisions. You may need help when it comes to implementing these BI trends.