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BI: the sky is the limit in 2016

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Business intelligence (BI) has never been a hotter topic. Over the last few years, ‘big data’ from multiple new data sources has driven game changing analytic use cases, and innovation has changed the face of BI as we know it.
According to Markets and Markets, the BI and analytics software market is set to grow from $17.9 billion in 2015 to over $26.7 billion in 2020, and as data and analytics becomes more integrated within our daily lives, when it comes to growth potential, the sky is the limit.
Gustav Piater, sales director of Yellowfin South Africa, discusses several innovations and trends, forecast for 2016.
“There is no doubt that data is worth more when shared. Insights that are not accessible, that are tucked away behind security permissions, stashed on a desktop, or jealously protected by senior management, simply do not have the value or impact that insights shared quickly throughout the business, as these can start movements towards positive change.”
He says the past few years have seen many BI solutions adding collaborative BI features to their products. “These include broadcasting, comments and annotations, as well as embedded BI. This year, we will see BI platforms embrace collaborative features, for example Facebook-like social Timelines, Trello-like Kanban boards, and PowerPoint-like storyboards to facilitate data storytelling and crucial decisions in meetings.”
Next, Piater says we will see traditional reporting, data discovery and embedded BI converge into a single BI platform. “Many large enterprises have invested in multiple, disparate BI and analytics tools. This is because the range of BI use cases is wide, and the majority of vendors focus on one niche only. This year, businesses will start consolidating their traditional reporting, data discovery, and embedded analytics capabilities into one, single BI platform.”
He says 2016 will see connecting to cloud data sources becoming easy. “The number of data sources connected to analytics platforms is set to surge this year, mainly because connecting to cloud-based data sources will become as easy as connecting to on-premise databases. Further, we can expect that connecting to data sources in the cloud will become even more simple as several analytics tools are moving to the cloud, especially if BI platforms also begin to bundle pre-built content for most cloud data sources.”
Another trend, he says, is governed BI getting back into fashion. “According to Gartner, ‘through 2016, less than 10% of self-service BI initiatives will be governed sufficiently to prevent inconsistencies that adversely affect the business’.  Because of this, this year will see businesses realising that circumventing IT for self-service data discovery can be detrimental.”
Piater says best case scenario, this will lead to departmental data silos with conflicting or inconsistent definitions and calculations. “Worst case scenario, businesses will leave themselves vulnerable to security breaches and potential data privacy repercussions. This will result in more businesses shifting from desktop-based departmental BI environments to cloud deployed platforms with governed self-service capabilities.”
He adds that 2016 will also see a rise in analytical applications. “As business moves to the cloud, it is dawning on companies that they can boost sales by giving their customers valuable insights into usage history. This year, Yellowfin predicts a significant rise in the number of companies building their own analytical applications for customers and partners, and will go as far as to say that in the next five years, analytical apps will become a component of every cloud service or embedded into every modern software application.”
Another trend, is ‘facts tell, but stories sell’. Research has revealed that after a presentation, 63% of delegates remember stories and only 5% remember statistics, which is why we’ll see the importance of storytelling within BI platforms grow in 2016, says Piater. “Telling stories with data is more memorable, personal, and impactful. At the end of the day, data analysis isn’t actually about data and charts. It’s about finding and telling a story.”
This year, we will also see the focus shift from the analytic workflow to the business workflow. “Not all organisations want self-service BI. The truth is, many information consumers prefer somebody else to perform the data discovery and analysis for them. 2016 will be the year that BI platforms start shifting their focus from purely analytic workflows, and begin involving the complete business workflow. This will see BI platforms introducing additional features to allow users to quickly connect with the BI experts in their company to create and manage trackable tasks, share ideas, and participate in collaborative review cycles to ensure the right BI content and insights are gleaned.”
Finally for 2016, says Piater, we will see ‘turning insight into action’ come to the fore. “Insight on its own does not translate into action. This year, BI solutions will at last begin to be more action oriented. BI will become a platform for enablement – an environment in which business users can create and assign tasks for users, while other tasks can be triggered automatically when data reaches certain thresholds.”