Andy Cotgreave, Senior Technology Evangelist, Tableau
In your opinion, what was the most important thing that happened within BI/ Analytics in 2016?
- True self-service at scale. Last year, we saw a wave of self-service visual analytics sweep across the enterprise sector. This wave was called out by Gartner as the rise of a new role: The Citizen Data Scientist. This is a person who is working with data that se advanced analytics or predictive and prescriptive capabilities, but whose primary job function is as a business user, not a data scientist.
- In 2016, we saw an increasing amount of employees in this role, thanks to many organizations embracing more self-service and moving analytics from the hands of the few to many. We’ve reached a real tipping point. We’ll only continue to see organizations of all sizes leverage trusted and scalable platforms to encourage people to see and understand their data.
In your opinion, what will be the most important development within BI/ Analytics in 2017?
- Embedded analytics. One of the results of the wave of self-service visual analytics at scale is that, as data becomes part of the natural work-flow, it will become more embedded within internal processes and external services. For example, we’ll see more companies provide visual analytics as a value-add to clients as they embed visual analytics into their existing offering.
- This will put analytics into the hands of the people who have not traditionally consumed data – from nurses and doctors, to store managers and call-center workers – to make business decisions.
- I think 2017 will be a year where people everywhere and anywhere will be analyzing data and answering their own questions with such ease and fluidity, they may not even realise it.
There was a lot of talk about digitalization in 2016 – how do you think this will affect the market in 2017?
- Digitalization is essentially moving the business to a digital environment. It’s a great opportunity for developing better services and more personalized touch points, correct? But with that opportunity comes the challenge of having a vast and very diverse amount of data.
- With the rise of digitalization, the transition to cloud-based data analytics solutions will only accelerate in 2017. Businesses will need to scale their data strategy to meet the digitalization challenge and cloud offers that flexibility. While many organizations will continue to deploy a hybrid architecture of cloud and on-premises solutions in 2017, cloud analytics will increasingly represent a faster and more scalable solution.
What new concepts do you think will emerge within BI/Analytics in 2017?
- Natural Language Processing: In 2017, our interactions with data will start to feel even more natural, thanks in part to improvements in areas like natural language processing. Natural language interfaces have the potential to make data and insights more accessible. Instead of learning complex graphical user interfaces, we can begin to use the most natural interface we have: our voice. This is an exciting field. Technology like Alexa and Google Assistant offer exciting, as-yet-incomplete visions of the future. There is a long way still to go but much progress will be made.
- Data literacy will become a fundamental skill: While it’s not a new concept, data analytics as a top skill will go from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must’ for businesses. In 2016, LinkedIn listed business intelligence as one of the hottest skills to get hired. In 2017, data analytics will become a mandatory core competency for all business sectors and professions. Conversations and decision making will no longer be ‘finger in the air’ or based on gut – instead, businesses will expect data to drive decision-making at every level.