Focus on the right trends for data success


In this post I want to highlight my personal views on some of the key areas that were highlighted by actual BI practitioners in response to the trends forecasted for 2020. Hopefully it will support other people in truly breaking through the clutter that the “trends jargon” can sometimes create, to get a better feel for where the focus on BI, and with that on data, should be placed.

A New Year has dawned and what’s exciting about 2020 is that it rings in a new decade – which reminds us just how much the world has changed and evolved over the last 10-years, especially from a technology perspective.

Of course, for the first quarter of any New Year, most business decision makers are buried deep in deciphering the big trends that are set to influence the months ahead, as they try to capitalise on the latest technologies which can be used to shape up business processes and improve profit margins. The reality is that technology is changing at such a pace that if businesses don’t keep up with the trends and make sure they are understood, they could be left behind – fighting in a game of catchup or worse, risking becoming redundant.

It is only natural to see several reports linked to technology trends and predictions when catching up on some industry reading. But one particular piece I recently came across, specifically speaking to trends in the Business Intelligence (BI) space, really fascinated me, as it hones in on the views of BI experts, consultants and/or vendors around some of the trending topics/trends put forward to them. The piece also shows how trends in the BI space are changing, which is interesting to see.

While we continue to hear the likes of cloud and the impact of cloud BI being thrown around as an example, the industry piece shares critical views on what the BI practitioners actually think – and it is this insight that business professionals really need to know and can benefit from, to support their planning around successful technology investments in 2020 and beyond.

Data Quality

An avid follower of my blog will know how often I punt the importance of data quality to the success of any data driven or BI strategy. Not at all to my surprise, data quality/management, along with data discovery/visualization and data-driven culture are the top three areas that BI practitioners identify as the most important trends in their work. Not analytics, not agile BI, not real-time analytics and interestingly, not big data analytics.

Any technology or aspect that has an impact on or can improve the process of driving quality data forward should be a key focus area for businesses to leverage, to ensure that they are consistently developing forward looking data strategies that will produce results previously unheard of. I am a firm believer that the key to data success lies in data quality and it is so reassuring to see that data quality remains a key identified focus area for BI professionals for 2020 – and I myself hope to support more businesses in getting this right as the year progresses.

Data-driven culture

Establishing a data driven culture has been marked third in terms of importance. It is easy to understand why, when a business is trying to reach a point where its data and the outputs drive business success forward. What does become important to grasp, however, is what it takes to truly become a data driven business and how to build that data driven culture properly. It is beyond technology and enablement, and rather comes down to placing a focus on people, and this requires several considerations.

Getting this right is a strategy all on its own and a business must realise that this takes time and effort. For instance, it will not happen overnight or even over a few weeks, but rather over a period of time where the right and correctly thought-out measures to achieving a data driven culture have been initiated and substantiated in the business.

Self-service BI not a priority

While there is certainly merit in some of the self-service technologies and rightfully the concept has gained traction over the years, I am also not surprised to see that the professionals are not rating Self-service BI as such a high a priority trend going forward.

Although businesses want to allow every employee in the business to be able to benefit from data and get to this state quickly (and often the perception is that this supports driving a data driven culture) my experience is that the self-service opportunity has ended up creating much confusion, which can lead to substandard results. The self-service idea needs to be clearly understood for a business to see true value. And if a business is only at the beginning of their data journey or is still trying to establish a data-driven culture and data strategies focused on quality first, then the idea of self–service should not feature until later down the line, if at all.

2020 – and the next decade – will see more technology progression, and with that more trends come to the fore. Data sits at the centre of this and so it is an exciting time for anyone involved with data or specialising in the data field. But it is also an exciting time for business. There is so much opportunity out there and so much to be gained – but the right focus is needed to see the real value.

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