The start of a year is the time when you publish a “Top X Trends” study – this is when everyone does it and X better be a nice and round number like 10. A lot of bright minds in the Business Intelligence (BI) industry have sifted through all meaningful online sources, past studies and tons of answers to questionnaires, sent out to thousands of business and IT leaders. Now is the time when you read about the hype topics of the day – like Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Natural language processing. But let’s be fair – how much does your company really employ ML or AI at this very moment… or do you really think that these technologies will shape your company’s BI landscape at the end of 2019? Our article bellow is all about the technological trends which we think will have a great, visible and material impact on how companies do BI.

1. Rise of embedded analytics – although the concept of embedded analytics is not a new one, it has only recently started gaining real ground. The idea behind embedded analytics is putting both data and insights, in the same context, where the users are, so they can easily access them without ever leaving their platform of choice, resulting in increased efficiency and better overall results. For instance, by integrating the BI solution within the company’s CRM system, a salesman can easily see the patterns of certain customer behavior and follow their entire customer journey. Furthermore, while embedded analytics put action and insight at the same place, mobile analytics lets the users have access to them wherever they are. We believe that in a couple of years, embedded analytics will transform the process even further thanks to new technologies, such as AI and automation, merging with core business operations and workflows.

2. Data storytelling will play a major role – data storytelling is “the process of translating data analyses into understandable terms, in order to influence a business decision or action”. The collected data may hold tremendous amounts of potential value, yet its value cannot be unleashed unless all insights are uncovered and translated. As more companies aim to incorporate data at the heart of their decision-making, data storytelling is the key to communicating the information behind the data to the main decision-makers. This kind of organizational culture is also encouraging data literacy efforts, aimed at teaching people to truly understand the practical applications behind the data, turning them into valuable participants in the analytical conversation. This leaves room for people from different roles or departments to bring a diversity of perspectives before making a business decision. More and more companies realize there is a huge untapped potential in the minds of their people and that empowering all these people with analytics can bring huge returns on investment.

3. Overall increase in Data literacy – Techtarget defines data literacy as “the ability to derive meaningful information from data, just as literacy, in general, is the ability to derive information from the written word.” There is a certain positive correlation between an organization’s data literacy and its effectiveness across key performance indicators (KPIs) like gross margin, return-on-investments, etc.

Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that an increasing number of organizations demand some degree of data literacy from all employees and it is expected that data literacy will become a crucial hiring criterion. The increase of data literacy will promote the usage of self-service BI interfaces, which allow users to filter, sort, analyze and visualize data without having deep statistical knowledge. Hence, in 2019, it is expected that self-service BI interfaces will produce significantly more output compared to the last couple of years.

4. Smarter adoption  – the process of adopting a BI solution does not end with just integrating it with the organization’s systems, as the actual value is created by the way the employees use the solution to evolve their operations. Therefore, during 2019 it is likely that management will invest more in strategies and programs, which increase the employees’ engagement and understanding of the used BI platforms. Smarter adoption will also have a positive effect on data quality management. According to Gartner, companies are losing over $15 million annually, due to poor data quality. The consequences of bad data quality can be numerous – from losing potential revenue due to inaccuracy of understanding your customers to take all sorts of wrong business decisions. By implementing company-wide data quality processes and educating their people on how to use BI in their daily activities, organizations will improve their ability to leverage business intelligence and thus gain a competitive advantage that allows them to maximize their return on investment.

5. Moving towards data democracy – with the increased understanding of the importance of data-driven decision making, more companies from various industries are looking to hire highly data literate professionals. For the last five years, the demand for data scientists has grown over 600%. Consequently, with the rise of data literacy and smarter BI adoption a new category called citizen data scientists started emerging. Gartner defines a citizen data scientist as “a person who creates or generates models that use advanced diagnostic analytics or predictive and prescriptive capabilities, but whose primary job function is outside the field of statistics and analytics”. When working together data scientists and citizen data scientists will move the organization towards data democracy, where information in a digital format is accessible to the average end-user and non-specialists can gather and analyze data without requiring outside help. This new data structure will bring together various perspectives, covering the whole work pipeline, which will easily transform data into action points, solving the right problems in the right context.

6. True Mobile BI experience – it does not come as surprise that since 2016, when the mobile internet usage passed the desktop one for the first time in history, mobile applications have been playing a significant role in the modern business landscape. Thus, the entry of Mobile BI has been often pointed out as one of the top trends during previous years. Yet, we are only recently starting to see it happen. Previously, many BI platforms were just replicating the desktop experience on a mobile device without capturing its specific characteristics. Nowadays, vendors have a much better understanding of how to design a better, user-friendly mobile interface and what the important features that they should keep in mind are, in order to meet the needs of the average mobile user. Finally, we can experience the true potential of mobile BI, which not only gives us the opportunity to access our data anytime and anywhere but also improves operational efficiency and collaboration.

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In conclusion, 2019 has been shaping up to be a very dynamic year for the Business Intelligence field. A lot more companies, compared to 2018, will realize the potential benefits of embedding BI analytics in their overall business processes and will push their workforce towards higher data literacy. Moreover, we will finally harness the power of mobile BI, which will further empower business users and will provide a new source of competitive advantage.