Top Five Business Intelligence Trends to be Aware of in 2015

Edyta Kozek Sapphire
Expert Edyta Kozek discusses how focusing on data can transform small businesses, and the top trends that will affect your business in 2015.

Successfully utilising data improves a company’s bottom line. There is substantial evidence to support this claim, with retailers such as Tesco speaking out on how their successful use of data analysis has assisted them in gaining market share. Such examples serve as a powerful reminder that a focus on data can transform businesses, and it seems companies are increasingly starting to realise that business intelligence (BI) is becoming a valuable source of competitive advantage.

According to a 2013 Oxford Economics survey, even smaller firms are expanding their use of analytics; more than half of those with sales under £100 million will use these tools in three years – a jump of 43%. This focus looks set to continue through 2017, according to Gartner Inc. and development is expected around these five key areas in 2015.

1)    You no longer need to be a data scientist

Data analysis will continue to shift from the specialist to the everyman. You will no longer need to be an expert data scientist or analyst to get to grips with analytics. Instead, as technology becomes more intelligent and user friendly, familiarity with the company’s data analytics will become the domain of ordinary business users. In 2015, the business intelligence emphasis will shift from reporting-centric usage to a focus on joining information from disparate sources, data discovery, analysis and predictive analysis. Those business people with direct access to business intelligence will grow as a result of this shift, and education of these users will be key. According to research conducted by SAP, as many as 42% of the workforce is expected to begin using predictive tools regularly. Therefore by maximising employee engagement, smaller businesses will be able to drive real value and insight across the entire organisation.

2)    Increased demand for self-service

This aforementioned trend will result in increased demand for self-service, where businesses and end users will influence the future direction of BI tools, rather than IT, which was traditionally responsible for creating reports. However as platforms become simpler, these responsibilities are moving into the hands of the end user, thereby improving efficiency. So while BI systems will continue to capture and manage data for business benefit, they can do so without needing an army of coders. Instead users will be able to create their own reports without having to know SQL. The storytelling concept featured in products such as SAP’s Lumira will also play an increasingly important role in BI products, as users recognise that dashboards and visualisations better support the decision-making process when put in a useful context.

3)    Intelligence on the move

Five years ago, mobility was more of a bonus feature across business intelligence platforms, but today it is an absolutely essential component of any useful analytics solution. In twelve months it is predicted mobile business intelligence will shift to become the primary method of interacting with information, rather than secondary. Mobile BI products allow access to data remotely via tablets, mobiles etc, and dashboards and other methods of visual storytelling are making it easier to digest information on the move. Real-time alerting and access to data are still important, but soon mere access to information will not be enough. Instead there will be increased emphasis on the ability to use, modify, and add data from any location. This two-way street is the future of mobile BI and a pivotal turning point in converting intelligence into tangible business benefits.

4)    Sky-high Business Intelligence

In recent years the concept of technology in the cloud has been a hot topic across nearly every software sector, with the possible exception of BI. We should see this change in 2015, and Gartner predicts a future in which BI service providers are used as commonly as BI products. This prediction is supported by the notion that although cloud adoption rates are relatively low for BI, a number of service providers have emerged that enable users to perform analytics via the cloud. One of the advantages of this is that users save costs in terms of hardware and increased flexibility.

5)    Business collaboration will never be easier

Collaborative features within BI software will increase, as will the opportunity to utilise BI to analyse social data and predict customer trends. We’ll therefore see more social features infiltrate BI software, and collaboration will occur within the application rather than traditional emails and meetings.

Ultimately, business intelligence is becoming an increasingly important force across businesses of all sizes. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, companies that rate themselves ahead of their peers in their use of data are three times more likely to consider themselves substantially ahead in terms of financial performance. There certainly is now a well established link between improved business insight and company growth and success.

This article was provided by Edyta Kozek, Business Intelligence Development Manager at Sapphire Business Intelligence.

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