Business Intelligence Trends in 2020

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Written by Simon Porri

Business intelligence is one of the most loaded buzzwords in the world of business today. At its heart, business intelligence promises to transform ‘big data’ from a scattershot of data points into real-world, actionable insights. 

2019 witnessed the continued growth of cutting edge business intelligence tools that stand to open entirely new doors. But, what can we expect to see in 2020 BI trends?

By focusing on the shining stars of BI trends 2019, it’s possible to gain a pretty good idea of the upcoming trends we should already be preparing for. As it stands, 2020 looks set to be another bumper year, and we’re going to consider how you can keep up by looking at the ever-growing trends of BI tools and real-time, big data analytics.

1. Business-wide automation

Gartner estimates that around 40% of all data science tasks will be automated by 2020. This is hardly surprising given that advanced analytics have become increasingly difficult to manage with ever-increasing volumes of data. In fact, businesses over the last two years alone have collated around 90% of the world’s total data, and that growth trend doesn’t look set to slow anytime soon. 

When companies are dealing with data analytics on this scale, manual processes are simply no longer an option. If you want to use your data to isolate the right KPIs, track results and see meaningful outcomes, automation is necessary. 

Automation set to take the BI spotlight in 2020 include: 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

These two critical solutions are revolutionising the way we handle data management and interact with business analytics in future. Already at the end of 2019, 37% of companies have implemented some form of AI, and many others are developing projects for deployment soon, any of which can bring ease to crucial processes, and also provide data from new outlets.

This ease of analytic improvement is especially prevalent when paired with machine learning. ML applications are programmed to learn based on patterns, and seek to continually optimise themselves based on the data flows they encounter. This improves insights and increasingly allows for the computation of ever-larger data sets. 

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Internet of Things (IoT) 

Automating data processing is one thing. But the other half of data automation comes down to gathering data. While AI and machine learning may make the processing of data simple, IoT is automating the generation of data — further fueling the need to automate processing. 

By 2020, there will be a predicted 30.73 billion IoT connected devices, each providing critical data points for ingest and analysis across large and distributed systems. By connecting devices using embedded systems, the wide-scale data from IoT devices provides a centralized, automated analytic process that’s difficult to beat in this age of interconnectivity. 

By pairing IoT devices with business processes and a smart BI solution, companies should find that they’re able to settle on actionable insights and indicators, all with-in pretty much automated systems.

2. Data governance

As business data grows in a big way, data governance is coming to the forefront as a pressing business intelligence trend, especially with data collation set to explode further throughout 2020. Most importantly, companies must work to find the ideal balance between access to their data on a company-wide scale, and their broader security efforts. 

This issue is perhaps especially prevalent in 2020, considering the number of high-profile data breaches that have occurred in the last few years and recent changes to data protection regulations. 

The solution that BI tools are delivering to data governance is centralisation and ‘permission control’. In fact, a good BI tool can make the issue of data governance a whole lot simpler by simply centralising where all the reporting functions sit. On top of that, there is an increasing trend to create permission settings within business intelligence tools that make sure individuals only have access to the data that is truly relevant to their role. Data is kept in one place and communication is simplified, but data access remains limited to solely what individuals need to know.

3. Data quality management

According to a survey conducted by the Business Application Research Center, data quality wins the top spot as our most important BI process of 2019, and this area of focus doesn’t look set to lose that accolade anytime soon. As the sheer amount of data that companies handle continues to grow, data quality is only going to become more and more of a pressing BI priority. The outcomes you get out of data are, of course, only as good as the data you feed into your system. 

While automated processes are invaluable for bringing as much information as possible into a company’s data warehouse, business users need to consider quality if they’re to avoid the $15 million (over £11.5 million) losses Gartner estimates companies experience due to bad quality data. Make sure your BI tool helps you sort the wheat from the chaff. Increasingly, we predict that this will be a central feature of business intelligence.

By and large, by implementing advanced data processes, businesses are far better able to determine the consumer data they should focus on for actionable results. AI and IoT are especially useful within implementations like these, as they provide an automated focus on analytics that matter, allowing you to achieve quality data without sifting through endless big data results.

4. Predictive and prescriptive analytics tools

Predictive and prescriptive analytics tools are some of the most spoken about terms among BI professionals right now, and with good reason. With big data becoming a central focus of all analytic processes, big and small companies alike are guaranteed to benefit from leveraging these processes throughout 2020. But, what exactly are predictive and prescriptive analytics?

Predictive analytics

Predictive analytics involve extracting information from existing data to predict future forecasts and possibilities. Predictive analysis can be used in a range of ways, including to predict forecasts surrounding customer numbers, or even future purchases. Artificial Neural Networks (ANN), Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average (ARIMA) and natural language processing are most popular among companies using predictive analytics to enhance business intelligence, and involve different ways of processing data or noticing correlations.

Prescriptive analysis

Prescriptive analysis concerns the use of predictive results to settle on KPIs that companies can work towards to achieve that predicted future. Using methods such as data visualisation and graph analysis, prescriptive practices can help companies to give customers what they want when they want it. Critically, they help communicate actions internally and maintain a centralised vision of what actions are important and which are less than critical. 

When it comes to BI-trends in 2020, we predict an increase in the number of tools that integrate both predictive and prescriptive analytics capabilities. This actually brings us directly to the next trend… 

5. Action-orientated reporting

A number of business intelligence tools have taken the standard capabilities of prescriptive analysis one step further. Rather than simply providing insights on what needs to be done, they have created platforms that are purpose-built to aid communication and enable the setting and tracking of KPI targets informed by business intelligence analytics. The utility of this action-orientated reporting means that this is a trend that we only expect to see increase in popularity. Data is, when it comes down to it, only as valuable as the steps you take in light of what you’ve learned.  

Generally, what defines an action-orientated BI platform is the inclusion of KPI reporting dashboards that allow you to set specific targets within the unified system. These KPIs can be shared with different people using sophisticated permissions systems, and then tracked within the same interface. This makes the outcome of actions clear and reduces the risk of miscommunication. 

Ultimately, business users need to consider business intelligence systems that allow them to track, manage, and set KPIs that actually lead to improvements and results. What’s more, they need to consider platforms that work towards KPI centralisation, to achieve results across the now wide range of business applications. We expect to see this become an increasingly dominant force within the market. 
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The overarching BI trend of 2020

From looking at these urgent pointers, it’s plain to see a pretty overarching BI trend for 2020. Mostly, businesses need to think about how they can effectively manage business intelligence and data analysis alike in the light of big data and how they can use that data to inform and control actions. 

Increasingly, attempts to manage both the influx of data and the challenge of transforming those insights into actions have been central to the development of new and improved business intelligence tools. The future of business intelligence is a bright one. Keeping a clear eye on the trends, and looking to integrate new and evolving solutions into your investment plan is critical to staying ahead of the curve and delivering the solution that your business needs today. 

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