Over the past decade, business intelligence (BI) has made a huge leap forward. Self-service BI, data discovery tools and data quality management applications help businesses of all scales effectively capture and process different sorts of information. Raw data is being collected, integrated, visualized and translated into actionable insights that then help to transform every aspect of the business — from marketing to sales to customer support.
In 2021, the landscape of business intelligence solutions will evolve even more; however, BI trends themselves won’t change drastically (compared to 2020). Those that were on top of last year’s BI lists — AI, connected cloud, real-time BI, etc. — will continue to unfold in 2021, as well. The difference we are about to witness this year will lie in deeper integration of business intelligence tools into company processes.
Here are the top seven business intelligence trends that will shape organizations in 2021.
The Future is Here: Seven BI Trends to Watch this Year
1. Storytelling for decision-making
Correct and relevant data creates accurate analysis. The story, in turn, makes it effective. How we gather and process data is just as important as how we convey it. Analysts can come up with dozens of reports and dashboards; however, to the untrained eye, all this information may look like a collection of graphs and figures — unless there’s a story behind it.
The ability to move from mere analysis to practical conclusions and solutions is what makes storytelling extremely important. In today’s fast-changing world, businesses need to act fast, and clear insights, that are based on accurately conveyed and contextualized data, can help do exactly that. This is why data storytelling will continue to be a major trend in 2021.
2. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The business intelligence industry, as we know it today, wouldn’t be complete without AI technologies. With the help of artificial intelligence software, businesses determine trends using historical data, detect anomalies and register new patterns.
Sure, these terms aren’t new to data analysis; however, AI has made it possible to speed up workflows tremendously, performing 10-hours worth of human work in just a few seconds.
Such tools as HANA (AI-based software used by Walmart to process large volumes of records from 11,000+ stores), MindSphere (AI-cloud platform used by Siemens to monitor the performance statistics of the industrial equipment), or Domo (BI platform that takes data from Facebook, Shopify, Salesforce, to develop insights on customers, sales patterns, inventory, etc.) demonstrate the active interest in AI technologies on behalf of the global business community.
In 2021, artificial intelligence will start to rise, and the number of its applications in the BI area will grow significantly.
3. Data security
With an increased use of data-driven tools and technologies, the need for concrete cyber-security mechanisms has become critical. According to a recent BI-Survey, more than 60% of companies have experienced an increased number of data theft threats over the course of 2020. In addition, billions of user records are exposed due to high-profile data breaches every year.
Cyberattacks have already become the new normal, and one which cannot be avoided. It can, however, be effectively managed. Retaining security protocols, establishing data access control, and protecting data with dedicated BI software are the practices used by enterprises and SMEs to shield data from cybercriminals.
Going remote, as well as moving all processes to the cloud, will fuel new cyberattacks in 2021. This, in turn, will serve as a basis for a wide implementation of advanced security features (like identity- and multi-factor authentication) and anchor security awareness mechanisms into company culture.
4. Mobile BI
With a large rise in mobile technologies, the adoption of BI tools on smartphones will happen in just a matter of time. The ability to check vital KPIs or receive dashboard updates in real-time is becoming a game-changer for many executives and business owners who spend their working days hopping between different locations, rather than sitting in their offices.
New opportunities that come with mobile BI include faster access to information, operation efficiencies, and real-time decision making. These all improve workflows and internal communication policies within companies.
Mobile BI isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, the mobile business intelligence market is forecasted to reach $20.8 billion by 2024, globally — 3.3x growth compared to 2018’s figures ($6.1 billion).
5. Embedded analytics
Data presentation has been one of the major challenges that the business intelligence industry experiences, to this day. On the one hand, analysts need to send multiple reports to various clients while making sure nothing is missed along the way.
On the other, executives and company owners have been looking for ways to operationalize data in an environment that is native to them, without a need to turn to third-party solutions that may overcomplicate the decision-making process.
Embedded business intelligence is an answer to both of these problems, as it helps to integrate data analysis into the workflow and review all the information in the companies’ applications. In other words: turn static analytics into actionable analytics.
Such obvious and unique benefits make embedded BI one of the fastest growing trends in recent years. In 2021, more and more companies will start to adopt embedded BI tools in order to tailor analytics to their own needs and update their digital infrastructure.
6. Collaborative BI
When looking at this trend, we should picture ‘a process.’ Collaborative business intelligence is a combination of different tools used to enhance the problem-solving process, making it more productive for the company.
Collaborative BI allows for several individuals on a team to work on the same data within a single shared environment — analyze, edit, add comments, generate solutions, gain insights, etc.
This approach helps businesses develop a so-called ‘Collective intelligence’ where all conclusions are made by a group of individuals, and not at the individual level. Not only does this advance data analysis itself, but also improves the quality of decisions being made.
Collaborative BI also helps to avoid playing Broken Telephone inside a team. This is especially important nowadays, when most of the business operations are remote due to social distancing measures.
7. Connected cloud
The future of business is in the cloud: it is believed that, in 2021, cloud data centers will take over 94% of business processes, worldwide. This almost complete transition to the cloud seems inevitable and logical since all companies strive for faster and more effective performance that consumes fewer resources at the same time.
All BI assets, including data and analytical models, data storage, computing power, etc. are moving to the cloud, providing companies with stable and unified access to information. This, in turn, fosters a connected environment that helps teams work on disparate sources of information all in one place.
It is also a reason why cloud analytics will be the fastest-growing market — predicted to double its value by 2025: from $23.2 billion in 2020 to $65.4 billion by 2025.
Being BI-driven is not an option anymore, and the last year has clearly shown that. Thanks to the ongoing digital transformation, which became an inevitable outcome for many industries after the pandemic outbreak, BI tools will spread to more businesses and areas of application in 2021.
In this post, we tried to cover the seven most prominent business intelligence trends that will continue to transform the industry in 2021. If you want more information on this subject or are interested in how your company can benefit from business intelligence tools and BI outsourcing, feel free to contact Honeycomb Software.
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