The Future of Business Intelligence is in Education

5 Min Read

Author: Amanda Brandon

Author: Amanda Brandon

Richard Herschel, chair of the decisions & systems science department at St. Joseph’s University worked with BeyeNETWORK (@BeyeNETWORK) earlier this year to survey 79 BI professionals for the first-ever state of business intelligence.

25% of Companies BI Capabilities “Inadequate”

The survey results point out some key trends in business intelligence – specifically around BI’s role in the organization and the demand for BI education and services. The most intriguing fact from the survey is that a quarter of respondents believe their “BI capabilities are inadequate.”

The open-ended comments suggest the reason is a lack of expertise and data integration. The survey also shows evidence of an urgent need in business intelligence – more education as services expand. Before we hit on how this affects the organization, it’s important to understand how companies use BI tools.

How BI Is Used in the Organization

Herschel writes that the BI is used in decision support at all levels of the organization with product, market and trend analysis as the leading uses in the strategic arena. In tactical uses, we’re seeing a wide range of performance management, marketing, forecasting, and planning alongside profitability measurements. To round out the operational uses, it’s widespread in financials and sales analytics.

As far as dominant applications go, the survey showed dashboards, decision support and data mining were leading responses.

Achieving BI Success Dependent on Talent

The always-important human element was identified as a major success factor in BI efforts. Essentials include the “decision-makers’ exposure to and understanding of BI and the involvement of business managers review of business and data models.”

According to the survey, more than three-quarters of respondents said business analytics and technical skills are critical to BI teams. Additionally, the number of needed talent is increasing. Fifty-seven percent of respondents expect to recruit new BI talent in the next year.

Focus on Education & Training in BI Services

Due to the growth in BI usage, 66 percent of respondents think users need additional training. And, the majority expects the role of BI services to grow over the next year; with majority of it happening from inside the company.

Respondents say that multiple drivers are behind the demand for BI services. Leading the charge are mobile BI applications, advanced data visualizations and social BI. The need for education in these areas points to the increasingly attractive real-time access to data analytics and the newness of the technology and industry.

Education Service Takeaways

BI is a growing tool for users across the organization. For instance, the survey said 33 percent of companies have business users utilizing BI tools outside the BI team. In order to be more effective across the organization, BI education offerings need to extend beyond the IT and analytics teams.

41 percent of those surveyed have less than five years BI experience. Herschel writes that this is “problematic because the BI field is relatively new and most students entering universities or pursuing graduate degrees are not even aware of BI as a potential field of employment.” For now, it looks like industry and on-the-job training will have to be implemented to meet the demand for talent.

Only a few universities offer BI or business analytics degree programs. With only a few schools offering mostly graduate level programs, is the more urgent need to create academic programs? Or, is it wiser to address the talent issue from within and partner with vendors to train more users? Herschel calls for development of a professional association “to educate the general workforce and students about what the BI field is and the professional opportunities it affords.”

We think it’s a combination of all three – companies, vendors and academia that will help address talent shortages and put BI applications in more hands across the company.

To learn how Spotfire is helping clients meet their ongoing training needs, check out our recent on-demand webcast “Educational Awareness Session: Driving Spotfire User Adoption in 2011”.

Amanda Brandon
Spotfire Blogging Team

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