Let Me Interact: What's trending in self-service Business Analytics

Let’s be honest: if you haven’t yet jumped the train of self-service business analytics, you are a bit late. Well, you are not only late, but you are potentially in a state of losing your audience on their requirement for insight in your company’s performance …. hmm, that’s some statement, how come?

Digital transformation is rapidly changing our world: networks and devices are connected simultaneously at staggering speed. As a result data explodes, is getting bigger and – especially - more complex. Without a constructive way to show correlations, dependencies and trends, companies are collecting tons of data without being capable of creating actionable insights. This is where self-service business analytics comes in.

Time for some explanation:

As an outcome of digital transformation we recognize some key changes in the way business analysts need to coop with having full insight in their organization:

  • Data becomes large in volume and complex in structure: more data from more devices and with a more complex structure

  • The source of data is not static anymore: sources vary and change constantly

  • Business analysts require almost on-line actionable insights: supplier and customer behavior is highly dynamic and requires quick response

  • There is push outside ICT, to bring actionable insight to the place where they belong: the business users

Self-service analytics tools answers on the above challenges by facilitating in very easy access to sources and very agile techniques for visualizations and analyses. While respecting the lowest adoption levels, the tools are made for business users given their limitless way to explore data and their story telling capabilities. But is it enough? Not if we believe the global providers of market intelligence like IDC. Today’s analysts require more from their self-service tools:

Let me interact; interaction is everything

As we saw earlier, analysts now very quickly need to correlate data, find trends and dependencies. This means they require changing, editing and manipulating visualizations constantly. It requires tools that have a high degree of interactivity between user and visualization. Drill down, drill-anywhere, filter and animate. Bring visualizations together in a story and have control boxes to navigate. Share your results with the world at your fingertips.

What’s the best that could happen

Digital transformation also affects on the “known vs unknown” spectrum: more and new data with more and new correlations, means uncertainty in actionable insights. Users want to know “what could happen” if insights are actioned upon. Meaning we require predictive algorithms in our self-service tools. Algorithms like decision trees that either forecast or simulate what could happen in pre-defined circumstances.

Let me blend

With the variety of source and their structure changing constantly, the analyst – bear in mind they are business users and not ICT people – needs to coop with some data integration issues. These sources will not always respects “traditional database integration rules” for joining tables etc. To still allow for the correlations insights, our analysts need to be able to blend data. Blending is technique to interrelate data even though technically they cannot be joined. The technique is innovative in a sense that at all circumstances correct outcome needs to be guaranteed while respecting the limited ICT knowledge with the analysts.

Interactivity, blending and predictive capabilities of self-service tools will be the keying trends for the next year. They will separate the wheat from the chaff in the BI landscape. Exciting times!

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