BI & Analytic Trends of 2015: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

January 12, 2015
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Good_the_bad_and_the_uglyIt’s the time of year when analysts, consultants, vendors and industry pundits publish their predictions on the trends that they feel will have significant impact on the industry in the New Yea

Good_the_bad_and_the_uglyIt’s the time of year when analysts, consultants, vendors and industry pundits publish their predictions on the trends that they feel will have significant impact on the industry in the New Year. Although it’s always interesting to read what trends people think will expand the use and value of data analytics, it strikes me that the “yellow brick road” to information nirvana is not as easy or as straightforward as these prediction foretell.

You achieve business value by doing the right things with regards to people, processes and politics rather than by using the right products. Tools only play a minor role in your journey from data to information to insights to actions. It’s OK to love technology, but it’s not OK to ignore how and what to use technology for.

(And when I say “the right things” I do not imply perfect decisions; I mean actions that are more right than wrong and that are done often enough to build momentum. See my new BI Guideboook for a chapter devoted to People, Process and Politics.)

Rather than just pitch the latest and greatest trends for this year I am going to provide a number of lists, with each from a different perspective. These lists and follow-on discussions will include these four topics, all of which will be covered in future blog posts:

1. Dazed and Confused

The hype bandwagon drives our industry. Pundits and vendors boldly proclaim that the latest hyped thing provides analytics and leverages data without any fuss or muss. In fact, they imply that if you do not adopt the latest and greatest then you are the roadblock to information nirvana. They say it is so easy, all you have to do is buy the new products with systems integration!

As the hype bandwagon builds momentum, the claims get bigger and everything that is sold suddenly gets that hype thing’s label. Inevitably, the hyped term becomes grossly misunderstood and its use and value is discussed inaccurately. Myths arise that divert investments from projects that would have delivered business value to implementing the hyped thing just for its own sake. “If we build it, they will come” is one of inevitable results. 

The objective of this list is not to trash the hype, but to put it in a perspective that will enable a rational discussion of where and when it should be in your BI investments and architecture.

2. Best Business Value

Although the hyped industry trends get all the attention, there are many other trends in the BI industry that are expanding the use and value of data and analytics. Although the vendors and pundits refer to these trends as technology, they have inevitably resulted from people’s experiences and learnings rather than the technology itself. These experiences and leanings are what makes the design, methods, processes and products evolve. Technology is the tail in the “tail wagging the dog.”

This list will portray many of the things that people are doing right in their quest for information nirvana — or perhaps just their quest to expand beyond data silos and provide business people with consistent, trusted data.

3. Unintended Consequences

There are many trends that improve business productivity and help you gather data that will improve your business. But there can be unintended consequences as enterprises focus on the short-term benefits, failing to consider what comes next. Sure, having an agile business is great, but that does not excuse being surprised by the bad things that happen as a result.

The objective of this list is not to avoid doing certain things, but to examine the impact on BI and analytics across the enterprise and plan accordingly. Stuff happens, but if it happens repeatedly you should be able to avoid it.

4.   The Little Things That Matter

This is my favorite list. These are the best practices or things that people are doing to advance towards information nirvana. These are the breakout ideas that people have figured out by trial-and-error and by being willing to fail at times. The common thread in these trends is that they take into account the people, politics, processes and products that are necessary to succeed.

This list does not include the “silver bullet” technology, but rather the little things that are the true ingredients to success. Although I call them “little things” they require courage, discipline and perseverance because there are always some pundits trying to convince you that their hyped solution is so much better.

Although it’s always interesting to read what trends people think will have a positive impact on business intelligence and analytics, it’s also important to separate the hype and myths from reality and to discuss the trends that are leading many astray from the path of increasing business value from BI and analytic investments.