20 Jan 2016

5 Key Trends for Business Analytics in 2016

Ben Scott Knight

*Blog image by Jakub Szepietowski

Becoming a data-driven organization, and creating a culture of data-driven decision making is now at the heart of most business strategy. The technology and techniques driving the value and impact of business data are increasing in number, availability and accessibility. So where will the focus be shifting in 2016 if businesses are going to stay ahead in the analytics game? We've picked out 5 key trends to watch out for...

1. The Rise of Agile Analytics

In the past, organizations of all shapes and sizes have come up with one-off projects to integrate, clean, store, visualise and analyze their data. Typically, these projects require huge upfront investment and working hours.

The era of back-breaking, slow-moving data projects is ending. 2016 will see an increased shift towards an agile analytics approach. In contrast to a large-scale project, agile analytics involves rapid prototyping where businesses can learn and test their analytics solutions as they go. These sprints require little upfront investment and can be modelled and shaped to adapt to the organization's needs as they evolve. They also accelerate user-adoption by allowing business users to hone their set of technical skills as they go, rather than shifting their ways of working suddenly. Find out more about this trend.

2. Data Governance becomes Business Strategy

According to Gartner, by 2017 most business users and analysts will have self-service tools to prepare data for analysis and visualisation. These tools are empowering business users to access integrated data from across the organization, to interrogate and unlock insights from it proactively, without relying on IT.

But with great power comes great responsibility. This means organizations need to rethink their data landscape. How can they create a framework that collects, stores and grants self-service analysis while ensuring governance? The continued development of solutions such as Alteryx and smart data warehouse technology will be a key facilitator in this space. Find out more about this trend.


 3. The analytics discussion moves away from technology to culture

Before self-service advanced analytics and data visualisation solutions were available, data was seen as the realm of IT. Individual business units had to fight to get to the front of the queue for data. The result? Slow and frustrating decision-making.

Today, the battle for self-service analytics technology is being won. The big question for companies will turn to how to gain more value from their existing systems and data. Part of the answer returns to ensuring a well-governed and accessible data landscape. But more important is to instil a proactive culture that will encourage people to drive impact from analytics. Data insight is nothing without action. Beyond producing pretty data visualisations, companies will need to start building the value of analytical capability on their bottom line.

 4. The business CV will have to demonstrate analytics expertise

As data analytics become a mainstay in many organizations, those traditionally afraid of data analytics will be challenged. We are now living in a world where new entrants to a business are equally, if not more technologically equipped to offer valuable insight, than those thirty years their senior in experience.

Scared? You should be. Every level of the business is going to have to upskill to keep up with the competition from a business and individual perspective. From senior executives to business analysts, everyone will have to build a new relationship with data. This means learning to ask the right questions and generate the most insightful answers from data to drive decision-making, and rigorously tracking the impact of those decisions. 

 5. Data Analytics Move to the Cloud

Businesses have been slightly fearful of moving to the cloud. Data is such a commodity for companies and an area of insecurity for customers that maintaining its security is paramount. In the past, this has been a reason to hold the cloud at arm's length.

Better understanding and improved best practice cloud strategy means that data secured in the cloud is no less secure than privately hosted data when the correct controls are in place. With solutions such as Tableau building their cloud analytics offering and the cloud's security story getting stronger as its user base grows, it will give businesses more incentives to make the leap. The next question for organizations will be how to prepare from an infrastructure, data and security perspective for that leap.

In the next few weeks we will be exploring each of these trends in more depth. What trends are affecting your business and its approach to analytics? Join the discussion below.

Ben Scott Knight

About the author

As one of the Directors at Concentra, I work with our clients to achieve real value from data analytics by focusing on business outcomes and by ensuring the integration of analytical solutions with core operational processes. My blogs cover a spectrum of topics based on my 15+years’ experience in delivering top line growth and operational improvements for leading organisations. Beyond work, I love running, cricket, Tottenham Hotspur, my wife, our 3 daughters, and our 2 dogs.