Another year has come and gone, seemingly faster than ever – and we’re already into the second month of 2016. At the end of 2015 or in early January, some people were writing about Business Intelligence (BI) and Corporate Performance Management (CPM) trends they predicted we would see manifest this year. However, much like my current approach to New Year’s resolutions, I felt it was important to let the dust settle, work through the workload hangover of the holidays, and have the New Year function as a soft opening. This way, we can approach 2016 with a rolling start that doesn’t set us up for failure. This article will discuss some key trends and trajectories that data management and analytics will take in 2016.
In both BI and CPM realms, data is king – and has been for some time, but it just continues to grow in size and significance. And it’s truly no longer something that has to be organized, refined, and analyzed by the IT team as a gateway or additional step to get into the hands of business decision-makers. Moreover, self-service analytics has been consistently growing in popularity all along, but as it becomes the marketplace norm, the product offerings have and will continue to evolve. With the business end user/consumer in mind, self-service BI will come in the form of modern, intuitive platforms and applications that are easy-to-navigate, but advanced in terms of output. Financial reporting, budgeting, and dashboards will be richer and more robust, but we’ll see more quickly digestible, easy-to-understand analytics as that’s what business end users/consumers are seeking.
How is “quickly digestible” delivered in the form of BI or CPM products? In 2016, we’re going to see data visualizations compete with financial reporting to be the cornerstone of the analytical landscape. Customizable, advanced data visualizations, or dashboards, will be on the rise, as they are a favorite among executive teams, as well as extremely accessible for business end users at all levels of an enterprise. Businesses of all sizes will start or continue to move away from analysis that is purely based on traditional reporting with rows, columns, cells, and hard figures toward their data visualized in ways that are immediately recognizable in terms of trends, opportunities, and challenges, with the ability to drill down into the facts and figures – no matter the platform or the device.
In regard to platform, BI and CPM will officially start to really take off in Cloud or browser-based systems. There was some hesitation from consumers in the business world, perhaps related to the concern of having some, if not all of their data sources on-premises. In addition to the concern of managing both on-premises and Cloud/web-based solutions, there was a specific confusion and apprehension to security, particularly in the context of a hybrid approach. However, independent software vendors (ISVs) have heard this concern and done the work of making it 1) secure and 2) trustworthy, from product engineering to marketing. This kind of platform allows for accessibility anywhere you can connect to the internet, which is just one way that flexibility plays into 2016 trends for businesses.
With the enormity and the ubiquity of data becoming impossible to ignore, it was only a matter of time before Mobile BI became a substantial trend. With mobile devices replacing notepads, calculators, calendars, and so much more, BI and CPM apps are here to stay. And because they’re more established than ever, the offerings will continue to evolve in their delivery, from dashboards that only offer one KPI (due to screen size) to full data management functional kiosks. Again, we’ll see mobility, flexibility, and accessibility drive the BI marketplace as platforms and applications become smarter and more modern to work more intuitively for the business end user.
Relatedly, the BI and CPM software marketplace will become more competitive – benefiting the consumer. More specifically, the popularity of tools that are more sophisticated, flexible, and secure than say, homegrown Excel models, continues to grow. Therefore, you’ll see BI and CPM product engineers and manufacturers getting more and more competitive for your business. This will take the shape of competitive pricing, richer analytics, and the race to be on the cutting edge – all for the sake of counting you as their customer as BI and CPM takes center stage for modern business management.
An additional thing that is related to that competition in the marketplace has to do with data integrations. As more businesses would like to include more of their various data sources into analyses that will inform decision-making, data integration will continue to expand to do just that – again, as part of a value proposition for marketplace offerings. And you’re only going to benefit from this competition (that sometimes feels like a never ending race to ISVs, I’m sure) because the more diversified your data is that comprises your analyses, the more nuanced and informative the results can be for decision-making processes.
One of my favorite quotes (that admittedly has nothing to do with business) is by writer Zora Neale Hurston. She once said, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” To me, 2015 felt more like a year that asked several questions. From why is BI software becoming increasingly more popular and how can we make it even more consumer-driven and business user friendly to directly asking what do consumers want from a software solution and how do we innovate to deliver what the consumers are seeking – and what they don’t even know they want or need yet? Accordingly, 2016 seems to be shaping up to be a year of synergy in answering those questions with the delivery of tangible, powerful, and dynamic products to market. The amount of options you have and the limited time it seems you can harness to make important software investment decisions might leave you overwhelmed. Thankfully, Solver, Inc. is happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s web-powered, easy-to-use Excel and mobile BI tools with both real-time or data warehouse integrated analysis, budgeting and collaboration as a way to accelerate company performance management.