Business intelligence applications continued to improve by leaps and bounds by implementing both the cloud and artificial intelligence last year, and 2019 looks to further extend those trends. The emergence of digital communications platforms like Unified Communications has made it possible to incorporate voice and digital data into these applications. This is just one example of 8 major trends we’re watching this year that will define how business intelligence is employed.
1. Artificial intelligence will continue to make BI smarter
AI and machine learning has made it possible to draw more and better conclusions from large pools of business data, and business intelligence solutions have benefited greatly from this. When combined with real-time data flows, AI has proven to be a powerful tool for automated customer interaction and insight. Business intelligence apps fit into the customer and partner analytics piece of that puzzle. As AI continues to be implemented in business intelligence solutions, decision-makers should watch for new capabilities that can save labor and add flexibility to their business.
2. Cloud technology will collect and leverage even more data
Machine learning and cloud technology has made it possible for both large and small firms to leverage enormous amounts of data in 2018. These technologies have made it possible for large organizations to overcome the inefficiencies of their size. An example is Walmart’s implementation of SAP’s HANA cloud solution to collect and analyze all of the transactions generated by more than 10,000 stores each day. That data allows Walmart to detect and react to anomalies faster than they could in the past, catching fraud, malfunctioning technology, and other problems as they happen.
3. Small businesses will continue to be the primary adopters of BI solutions
Many of the examples touted as business intelligence success stories are large organizations because even modest efficiency gains translate to large dollar figures. This belies the fact that the majority of BI customers continue to be small businesses who want to maximize the effectiveness of a small workforce. The inexpensive services that the cloud has enabled means this trend is likely to accelerate. Small businesses need the analytics to stay as smart and nimble as they can, and BI tools are sure way to do that.
4. The move by solution providers to the subscription model will be completed
By the end of 2018, more than half of business intelligence platforms had become Software as a Service (SaaS) products. This means their customers purchase access to these platforms on a subscription model rather than a license-per-install model. This helps developers maintain a consistent revenue stream, and it has also lowered the upfront cost of adopting top-notch business intelligence solutions. We expect most of the providers, if not all of them, to move to a SaaS model by the end of 2019.
5. Insurance, B2B services, and technology will be the leading sectors to adopt BI solutions
The core purpose of business intelligence solutions is to collect data in central stores and provide analytics and visualizations for decision-makers. This makes BI necessary to industries that have large customer bases or large numbers of transactions that they need to analyze in order to make smart business decisions. It turns out the industries that adopt BI tools most often are insurance, B2B service providers, and technology companies. That’s because automating customer and business data analysis is key to keeping their overhead budgets low. It also makes sure their decision-makers stay sharp in these highly competitive markets.
6. Chief Data Officers will continue be appointed to handle data collection issues
The C-suite of many large organizations have begun to see the addition of a Chief Data Officer or Chief Analytics Officer position. These new officers are tasked with managing the increasingly vital and complex issues that surround a company’s total data assets. These assets are becoming central to many business models. They also expose modern businesses to significant risks in the form of security and regulatory threats that require enterprise-wide policies. We expect to see this trend continue in 2019 as more companies realize that leaving the management of data fragmented among many departments isn’t working. This also means more companies will see the adoption of enterprise-wide BI solutions that CDOs choose and implement.
7. Data silos will continue to be abandoned in favor of enterprise data governance and self-service
This trend dovetails with the last one because it’s a consequence of businesses needing to gain better enterprise-level control over the risks and rewards of their data. Companies that have allowed certain departments to enjoy control over the handling, storage, and access of business data will continue to transfer those privileges to higher level decision-makers. One benefit that companies will reap from this trend is better access to data analytics for all their managers and professionals. Self-service BI solutions will be the natural result of adopting company-wide policies. The upshot is that the silos of information many corporations permitted in the past are being demolished, which bodes well for those companies as a whole. Better access to modern BI tools will mean their middle managers will make better decisions.
8. Executives, operations managers, and sales professionals will be the main users of BI applications
Who will be the primary users of business intelligence solutions for most companies? Those professionals who need to make decisions based on data that is too large and diverse for a single person to fully understand without analytic tools. It turns out that of these decision-makers are executives, operations managers, and sales professionals. Executives need advanced reporting on business performance and market trends. Operations managers need to drill down into the details of complex products or processes to find ways to maximize resources and cut waste. Sales professionals need to tailor marketing messages and product offers to large and diverse customer bases. These three groups will continue to make up the majority of users that BI tools are designed to serve.
The trends in business intelligence technology in 2019 are many, but these eight insights show the overall approach most business decision-makers will want to watch as they consider new or expanded BI solutions. Adding more diverse sources of data like digital voice records harvested from VoIP systems is one example of how BI solutions can continue to bring surprising results in the future. These new data sources are combining with cloud and artificial intelligence to make business decision-making more timely and effective.