One thing we have learned this year is that the business intelligence (BI) market is in a state of transition. As businesses start to understand the real value that BI can add to their bottom line, the demand for analytics is becoming more tangible now than ever before. In particular, this year’s Gartner Magic Quadrant for BI report shows us that companies are moving further toward data-discovery vendors over other types of BI providers. According to the report, more than half of new BI spending was on data-discovery solutions in 2014 – a notable transition from the days when data-discovery solutions were seen as challengers in the market.
Data discovery is fast becoming the new standard for businesses. This is because companies need BI technology that is easily deployed, intuitive, and responsive so that any employee can discover insights. One of the ways these attributes have manifested over the last year has been through visualization technologies. However, another thing we have learned is that visualization tools alone are not enough. Although the Gartner report spells out great news for data discovery companies, we still have some ways to go in terms of BI adoption – currently at 20 to 30 percent, according to the same Gartner report.
We may be entering the age of company-wide data discovery. However, to improve adoption, data-discovery technology needs to continue to evolve to suit businesses’ varying requirements and analytics maturity levels. This is why the next phase of data discovery is moving to a scalable, governed, and holistic platform approach.
So, what does a platform approach to business intelligence actually mean? For years, vendors have boasted about their BI platforms. However, it’s only now that businesses can start to receive a true platform experience.
First, a true platform approach offers businesses a full spectrum of solutions from one centralized hub to suit their various needs. A platform approach also embraces the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to analytics. Every business case is different and, therefore, businesses need to be able to choose from different types of analytics. For example, one part of the business might need guided analytics, which normally is used for day-to-day operational processes for all employees. Meanwhile, the data scientists in the marketing department might need complex analytical capabilities to solve the more complicated problems for the business. At the same time, those employees involved in the supply chain might require yet another use case – embedded analytics for the supplier and distributor portal or extranet.
Moreover, a true platform approach helps users realize their complete BI story. At present, many BI solutions are great at helping users create impressive looking charts, but they often lack the quality of data required to add real value. A modern BI platform solution helps pull data from multiple sources and multiple formats, and automatically links relevant sources from across the organization. By being able to harness these disparate sources of information, companies can then produce meaningful visualizations. This enables them to answer questions about what happened, why it happened, and what is likely to happen next.
Furthermore, a true platform approach needs to assure a high level of data governance at all times. As one might expect, security is a top priority for CIOs and, therefore, it is important that BI solutions can assure a high level of governance to remain compliant. By taking a platform approach to BI, companies can tightly control who has access to data and also benefit from frequent software updates to bolster data security.
While it has been a great year for data discovery, it’s safe to say that this is only the beginning. As the industry begins to turn toward more effective and intuitive methods of analysis, it’s also crucial to keep ahead of the curve and keep improving services to meet the needs of the modern enterprise. The platform approach to BI provides businesses with multiple analytics capabilities and helps them discover more informed data insights via data preparation, stunning visualizations, and strong data governance, turning a business that simply collects data into a truly agile, data-driven enterprise.
James Fisher is VP of Global Product Marketing at Qlik and an analytics geek who is passionate about customer success. James boasts 18 years’ experience in global accountancy, consultancy and software companies. He previously held positions at SAP, BusinessObjects and PwC.
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