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Ralph Bolton examines what 2018 has in store when it comes to the key trends in Business Intelligence

The last decade has seen Business Intelligence develop at an astounding rate, with 2017 marking the coming together of a whole host of disruptive technologies and concepts which put BI tools well and truly on the map for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Once the sole preserve of large multinationals, developments in Big Data, predictive analytics, cloud services and data science, to name but four, have meant that BI analytics tools are now more accessible than ever before, with data-driven decision-making the order of the day. And, with the amount of data we see only set to increase further still, it’s vital that businesses continue to harness technological developments as and when they occur to ensure that BI solutions are leveraged correctly to derive ultimate value for the business.

With this in mind, businesses need to stay up-to-date with BI developments, understanding how BI will evolve in 2018 and what this will mean for their business. So, what are the top five Business Intelligence trends that we can expect to see develop in 2018?

1. Data Visualisation

The sheer amount of data businesses have to deal with on a daily basis can seem like an overwhelming hurdle, often resulting in an inaccessible blur of figures and statistics. Where BI software has advanced is in its ability to present complex, in-depth information in an understandable and highly visual way, making it easier for any user across any business function to digest large volumes of information. Over the next 12 months Business Intelligence reporting tools are set to improve data visualisation further, enhancing that all-important business insight that can only be derived from not only understanding data relationships and analysis, but by offering the ability to quickly, easily and visually drill-down into any data to revel deeper insight via interactive Business Intelligence dashboards. Where businesses can often be data rich but poor in insight, increased data visualisation capabilities offered by dashboard analytics tools that are built-in to leading BI solutions will underpin robust decision-making based on accurate, timely and contextualised data analysis.


2. Self-Service BI

2018 will see a further move away from the traditional BI model where everything goes through the IT department, and a move towards user-centric BI platforms with self-service at the heart. With IT departments struggling to keep pace with the ever-increasing data demands from right across the business, it’s this real time, direct access to valuable business insight that only self-service BI can provide that will enable users to make better, more-informed and faster decisions. There’s no longer any need to wait for IT to produce large, detailed reports, which drives user engagement with BI tools and enables users to customise the information they receive to suit their specific business requirements.


3. Cloud BI

We’re all operating in a multi-cloud world, where the benefits of lower-cost, increased scalability, easy implementation and enhanced accessibility have seen a great deal of solutions heading for the cloud. BI is no different with a move towards cloud analytics becoming not only increasingly popular, but increasingly necessary as increased cloud adoption invariably means that business data becomes more spread out. In short, if data is in the cloud, BI needs to be in the cloud too, with businesses turning to cloud Business Intelligence and deploying analytics where their data is. That’s not to say that everything should be sent sky-wards. Businesses should be looking for a hybrid model where analytics can run on premise and in the cloud, as well as being able to port easily between the two. What’s key is the ability to extract data from multiple locations and then turn this data into accessible, insightful and accurate business information.


4. Mobile BI

We all know that we’re working with more data than ever before, but of equal importance is the ability to make data physically more accessible than ever before. As the workforce becomes increasingly dispersed, access to mobile dashboards is crucial. The best BI systems ensure that users can make the right business decisions faster than ever before, from any device.


5. Networked BI

As with mobile and self-service Business Intelligence, it’s the removal of barriers to information that is most important to achieve over the next 12 months. The same applies to the concept of networked BI, which involves doing away with the silos of departmental-specific information that are extremely commonplace within modern organisations, enabling all departments to find their analytical data at one source. By connecting every part of the organisation, networked BI uses a common analytics platform across the entire business, often using networked cloud analytics (incorporating two growing trends) to empower all users with self-service BI tools which not only enable the business to harness the collective insight and intelligence of the business as a whole, but guarantee increased data accuracy and quality, which, in turn, result in better business decisions that are right first time.

Understanding today how new developments in BI will evolve over the next 12 months is vital for those businesses who want to stay ahead of the game. Such is the pace of change when it comes to Business Intelligence tools that it wouldn’t take much to fall behind. Putting in the groundwork now stands a business in good stead, leveraging business analytics and insight to make proactive, strategic, robust and, most importantly, future-driven decisions.


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