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The 3 Top Business Intelligence Trends of 2018

Tom Hoblitzell | | December 20, 2018

In a constantly evolving landscape of business technology, business intelligence stands out as one of the most fast-paced. Not only do you have to worry about the ever-expanding volumes of data under your command, you also need to find better ways to process and analyze it in order to outdo your competition.

Fortunately, there are surveys like the Business Application Research Center (BARC)’s BI Trend Monitor 2018 to keep you abreast of the latest developments and hottest buzzwords in business intelligence and analytics. The study breaks down the data by different regions, industries, and user types, providing granular insights for each trend.

BARC’s latest survey identifies three trends as particularly important for BI practitioners this year: data quality and master data management, data discovery and visualization, and self-service BI. In this article, we’ll discuss each of these trends, as well as what lies behind the recent surge of interest.

1. Data Quality and Master Data Management

You can have all the pretty pictures and self-service functionality you want, but they’ll be built on a shaky foundation if the underlying data is of poor quality. Making smarter data-driven decisions requires access to correct, clean, and consistent information.

One way that organizations seek to improve data quality is through master data management: a big data best practice that seeks to bring together master data from across multiple systems, such as platforms for enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM).

Despite companies’ interest in data quality and MDM, there remains a good deal of room to grow in the future. Only 15 percent of businesses have actually deployed a mature data quality model, even though businesses that have done so report higher levels of satisfaction.

2. Data Discovery and Visualization

Visualization is the “eye candy” part of business intelligence, but it’s also a highly effective tool of persuasion. The right dashboards and charts can make all the difference when trying to convince managers and executives to take a particular course of action.

Paired closely with visualization is the concept of “data discovery”: being able to search or even wander through sources of information to discover the patterns, insights, and trends within. Visualizations can help even non-technical users interact with and explore large datasets.

According to the BARC survey, the two most influential subtrends for data discovery right now are machine learning and improving user guidance. Embracing data discovery is a strong sign that a company knows what it’s doing: “best-in-class” BI performers gave data discovery and visualization a 7.7 on a 10-point scale of importance, a full point higher than companies lagging behind on BI.

3. Self-Service BI

Self-service business intelligence and visualization are very similar in their goals: they both aim to simplify the process of getting data-driven insights to the non-technical business users who need them. Perhaps that’s why the BARC survey says that “self-service BI has been on organizations’ wish lists for a long time.”

Unfortunately, only 22 percent of business users say that they have access to self-service BI when they need it. This is partly due to the complexity of implementing a truly self-service BI solution. Many companies’ attempts at implementing self-service BI have failed due to challenges such as high investment costs and lack of proper care with data governance.

Final Thoughts

Forward-thinking companies know that they have to stay on the cutting edge of business intelligence in order to secure continued access to the most valuable strategic insights. To learn more about how you can implement these and other trends within your organization, visit our website or contact Datavail’s analytics team.

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