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Five Data Trends That Won’t Change in 2015

As everyone begins making their New Year’s resolutions for 2015, DONALD FARMER highlights what’s in store for business intelligence in 2015.

“Today, we live in a world where the way people interact with data is changing fast and mostly for the better. People express themselves through the work they do: the notion that there is a small group in any organization that makes all the decisions no longer holds true. Decision making is distributed throughout the organization and these ‚Äòmicro decisions’ are important to the overall success of the business. The potential benefits to these organizations are huge if we give more people self-service data discovery tools to explore data and collaborate on their insights,” said Donald Farmer, vice president of innovation and design, Qlik.

Qlik Top 5 BI trends in BI solutions in 2015

1. Most businesses will be talking about Big Data, not doing it.

There are real opportunities for businesses to take advantage of Big Data. But mostly, IT departments don’t yet have the skills or the time to implement new infrastructures while struggling to maintain their existing workload. Meanwhile most business leaders have a fairly shallow understanding of what Big Data might do for them. What they do understand nearly always includes “leveraging social media” as a key goal. Organisations can achieve a great deal with existing sentiment analysis tools, or social media connectors. Integrating social media into existing analytics is valuable and relatively simple.

That is not to say Big Data is not coming our way. Acquire the skills and, if possible, the experience. However, organisations should not retire their relational database yet.

2. Visualisations will persuade, more than they will inform.

If Big Data was the buzzword of 2014, visualisation was not far behind. Trouble is, too many visualisations actually get in the way of better decisions. The reason why is because they are technically inadequate in themselves. The problem, paradoxically, is that visualisations as we use them today can be too convincing. Much visualisation reduces the information displayed in order to “clarify” to others something we have already found. But that may actually reduce conversation and argument, and so reduces our ability to get to the truth of a situation.

The solution is to avoid tools which only deliver charts for presentation or sharing. We should use tools which are truly interactive and exploratory. No one should be an “end user”: everyone in the organisation can have important insights.

3. We’ll still be looking for the perfect phone or tablet.

By the end of 2015, developers and administrators who thought they had solved their problems by standardising on one platform will most likely be facing the same problems again. They simply must give users a responsive experience. Who knows if users will be using an iPad or an Android, even in the next 12 months? In US schools, for the first time in 2015, Google Chromebooks outsold Apple iPads. With a truly responsive platform, we can build once and deploy anywhere.

4. We’ll be doing a ton of work on-premises, even if our data is in the cloud.

There are several significant cloud infrastructures and there are thousands of cloud applications. The chances are we are already creating data on one or more of the major operational apps. Perhaps we are even storing data in the cloud. But we still have plenty of data on-premises and we need to integrate on-premises data with data from not one, but several of those cloud applications. In 2015 we’re going to be downloading data back on premises in order to perform very traditional operations: data cleaning, shaping, transforming, and integrating. The back office will still literally be in the back office for some time to come.

5. Managers will still not have basic insight to their daily operations.

It is easy to get carried away with enthusiasm for the latest technologies. Big Data, the Internet of Things, predictive analytics, all promise much. Yet look around your business, or the business of your customers, the systems of your suppliers and partners. Chances are there are managers everywhere still wishing they had better, more complete, more accurate, timelier information about basic elements of their daily work. It is tempting to aim for the dramatic insight that will transform our business (and reputation). However it remains true that data analysis or decision support improves business most by improving every transaction and every decision just a little.

In summary, Farmer says, “Process those orders with fewer errors. Improve production efficiency just a step more. Target your marketing efforts a little better. And above all, give managers the insight to identify, plan and track these small, quotidian changes. At the end of 2015 you’ll look back in quiet satisfaction.

* Donald Farmer is an internationally respected speaker and writer, with 30 years’ experience in data management and analysis. Before joining Qlik, Donald was a leader of the Microsoft Business Intelligence team, working on new products for ETL, predictive analytics and OLAP. An author of several books and many articles, Mr. Farmer has applied his knowledge in fields as diverse as archaeology and fish-farming. He is also a Guest Professor at Southwestern University in Chongqing and lives in an experimental woodland house near Seattle.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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