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Wikipedia describes Business Intelligence is as the strategies and technologies used by enterprises for the data analysis of business information. BI technologies provide historical, current, and predictive views of business operations.

Market Size

The market research portal [] suggests the global market for business intelligence tooling will reach USD 147.19 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 26.98% from 2017 to 2025. Meanwhile, [Gartner] suggests the analytics and business intelligence software market grew by 11.7% to $21.6 billion in 2018 in current USD. Modern BI platforms continue to be the fastest growing segment at 23.3%, followed by data science platforms with 19.0% growth.

The Role of Business Intelligence

Organizations require business intelligence tooling to maximize the value of their data by using it to make business decisions. When organizations shape their management approach to use data every day to make decisions, they are often described as data-driven.

The Market Forces that Pressure Businesses to be Data-Driven

A decade ago, data was interesting, useful maybe, but not always business critical. There were ways around the problem of not sharing data. Executives could always drag someone into an office and interrogate them for answers to their questions, marketers could run forums and research projects and count on a reasonable number of willing customers or prospects to take part, salespeople could still pick up the phone and cold call their prospects.

Not today. The tempo of business changed when things went online. As eCommerce has grown, data volumes have exploded, and smartphones have increased in volumes beyond the size of our populations. With the introduction of 5G telecommunications, we are experiencing a hundred-fold increase in download speeds which means that it’s comfortably possible for me to operate a Chromebook laptop computer connected to a cloud-based repository without housing all of the apps and files I need on a hard-disk. In a world with so much data, moving at light-speed is it any wonder that companies can no longer envision their managers crunching data on spreadsheets and thinking that it’s good enough!

Creating a Data Culture

To achieve this requires a culture change in many management teams that are accustomed to driving their business based on ‘hunches’ and ‘best guesses’ over what customers value and what they want. A digital economy means that enterprises no longer need to guess.

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon is quoted as saying, “If you don’t understand the details of your business you are going to fail.”

In a digital era, businesses operate on data. Much of their opportunity is programmed into inbound marketing schemas and their operational performance depends on data analytics to execute hundreds of decisions based on fact—not gut-feel—to fine-tune internal processes and minimize sales costs. To create a digital culture requires a re-think in technology, people, process and data management.

Advantages of Business Intelligence and Operating a Data Culture

Creating a digital culture will help your business to understand customer behavior, react to market changes faster than your rivals and eliminate the unknowns. What organization would not want these abilities? The transition from analog to digital business behaviors has been swift; a matter of a few years. Many enterprises find themselves on the wrong side of this wave, operating without good customer, product, business or market insights. They find their operations somewhat sluggish compared to the ‘SaaSy’ new-kids on the block.

Adoption Challenges

Even with ‘lots of data’ stored in their back-office systems, many businesses find there’s an issue with getting access to the data tools and data scientists needed to really make use of the data assets they hold.

The Democratization of Business Intelligence

Data has become the lifeblood of enterprise. Executive management teams are taking more of an active ownership role in BI initiatives than ever before. Once the bastion of large corporations—because they were the only community of business able to afford the extremely high price tag—business intelligence has become democratized over the last decade thanks to affordable ‘pay-as-you-use’ applications and cloud-based technologies that scale accessibility and affordability to dashboarding and data warehousing tools.

The latest research report on the Business Intelligence industry by Dresner Advisory Service’s (2018) suggests that small organizations with up to 100 employees have a greater percentage of employees using analytics and BI apps daily. They attribute this to adoption of business models that need advanced analytics to function and fewer barriers to adoption compared to larger enterprises.

Attitudes towards Digital Culture and Business Intelligence

Attitudes to data vary across businesses. Leaders generally see it as crucial and an opportunity, while many departmental leaders find it a tantalizing prospect that’s just out of reach. IT leaders, on the other hand, see data as a problem and a risk. And there will be many that see the surfacing of operational data as a risk, given that it might expose their underperformance. Bringing everyone

A Change Project Like No Other

Becoming data-driven is a change project like any other. To be successful, your business needs to be armed with the same state-of-the-art methods and tools that your competitors will be using. Nothing less will do. That means harnessing robotics and artificial intelligence, analytical visualization tools, predictive modeling and automated escalation routines.

Unfortunately, when considered in isolation, none of this technology will actually help your business to harvest its opportunity and grow. Like most changes in business, it will take a blend of ‘people, process, data and technology’ to become a successful data-driven enterprise—and the need to change attitudes and behaviors will as always take center-stage.

About the Author

Ian Tomlin is a management consultant and writer on the subject of enterprise computing and organizational design.  He serves on the USTECH GLOBAL EMEA Management Team.  Ian has written several books on the subject of digital transformation, cloud computing, social operating systems, codeless applications development, business intelligence, data science, office security, customer data platforms, vendor management systems, Managed Service Provisioning (MSP), customer experience, and organizational design.  He can be reached via LinkedIn or Twitter.

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