business intelligence





As Business Intelligence (BI) continues to improve year on year, it is radically changing the way small to medium sized enterprises makes decisions. Having the right information to hand now  means the difference between success and failure. Data-driven decision making delivers results as it replaces guesswork and speculation with facts and figures.


Thoughts leaders in the tech world have long been preaching the message that data and BI are essential tools for modern business. Back in 2011, Peter Sondergaard of Gartner Research perfectly captured why BI is important with the statement: “Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine.”


Alongside improving the decision making process, companies are increasingly finding innovative ways of monetising their data. According to a 2016 whitepaper published by KPMG: “Data monetisation is about effective and timely exploitation of an ever-growing new class of asset, the enterprise data, and converting that asset into currency (profits) by increasing revenues or decreasing costs”. Over the coming years, many companies will likely have entire departments focused on commercialising collected data.


While we are already seeing clear evidence of the benefits of data analytics and BI, there is vast scope for improvement. This is because the majority of collected data is not used to enhance operations, instead it lies dormant on company servers. Organisations that can capitalise on that information to improve existing processes will likely see significant improvements in their strategies. Furthermore, those that learn how to market and sell that data will achieve higher revenues. In this post we’ll cover 3 major trends business owners need to know to to make sure they are getting the most out of their BI strategy.


1 – Self-service BI for smaller businesses


In the past, using big data analytics was an option available to large enterprises only. But now the technology has become much more affordable, democratising the power of big data in the process. There is now an abundance of self-service BI solutions for businesses of all sizes to choose from.


In most organisations, internal data comes in from a number of different departments – this can make it difficult to aggregate the data in a single format that makes sense to everyone. If data collected across multiple departments cannot be properly integrated it creates data-centric “blind spots” which open the company up to significant risks. However, the latest BI tools are already combatting this problem.


Most BI tools now use application program interfaces (APIs) to transfer collected data into applications designed for non-technical users. This allows clunky dashboards to be replaced with more useful apps. Converting to an app-centric approach empowers companies to make their data more interactive across multiple departments. Self-reliant solutions help businesses make data more actionable.


2 – Data for visualization


Data visualization technology is what enables big data to unleash its true impact. It places the power of data into the hands of all employees, regardless of their technical knowledge. Market leaders in this space such as Tableau and Domo have been innovating at a rapid pace, helping their customers to improve the usefulness of their data. Earlier this year Tableau released its own predictions about where data analytics are headed, highlighting visualisation as the second most important development in the field.


But why is visualization such a compelling method for presenting data? Venturi’s Voice answered this question in a previous blog post with the help of subject matter experts Ben Glanville (YouGov) and Priyanthi Perrera-Nathan (BAE Systems). Essentially, data presented in compelling visuals, helps guide the viewer towards a greater level of understanding and insight.


3 –  Security for data


As more and more employees are using visualisation tools to access and review crucial information, the need to secure that information increases significantly. More people accessing and sharing data across departments means more opportunities for proprietary data to leak. It also opens up more points of entry for external attackers.


Gartner estimates that by 2018 20 percent of organisations will be looking to develop sound data security governance plans to protect themselves from data breaches on the cloud. Those that fail to do so will likely encounter damaging security breaches and subsequent PR nightmare.


This indicates the clear need for BI systems to be managed appropriately. Businesses must give careful consideration to their data infrastructure and create governance strategies to keep it secure. Taking the necessary time to ensure that all data applications have robust security will pay dividends in the future by preventing the hardships that come from breaches.


BI and big data have enormous potential for improving the quality of decisions and business strategies. This technology empowers leaders to find answers to those tough-to-crack questions, enabling them to make better decisions about allocating limited resources, refining operations, and where to place people. In doing so, business owners can identify opportunities for growth while at the same time minimising risk.