From big data to machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) or Internet of Things (IoT), the most important trends in IT right now all involve collecting large amounts of data. Suppliers of hardware and software are taking advantage of this fact and are developing products to capture, collate and present such data.
While business analytics continues to be a core component of digital transformation for every organisation, advances are at differing points along the continuum of market readiness for actual use. Big data, ML, AI and IoT are still largely unexplored areas for most companies. It’s therefore critical that technology leaders recognise the difference between mature trends that can be applied to real business scenarios today, versus those that while make for awe-inspiring reading, are still taking shape.
For example, there is a lot of hype and excitement surrounding AI. This encompasses machine learning and deep learning. Both can theoretically be used to optimise processes, improve text, speech and image recognition, as well as data security, not every company has the scale or business model to benefit from this high-level form of analytics. Artificial intelligence falls into a similar category; the reality for general business use seems to be some way off.
Therefore, it’s much better for businesses to start or improve their use of standard business analytics tools to make smarter decisions now. Such insights will help their personnel to work more efficiently and focus on human interactions, or to find creative solutions to problems.
The true value of analytics is realised when insights can inform decision-making to improve business outcomes. Sales, marketing, production and logistics often use separate systems and analytical tools. This means their data cannot be simply combined for analysis. Companies therefore need to solve this problem before they are tempted to invest in hypes such as big data and machine learning.
Which analytics tools will make the difference now?
With business constantly transforming success is dependent on agility and flexibility. Exposing key numbers and encouraging staff to focus on goals and KPIs, can help to breed a culture of analytics.
There are so many IT trends that purport to help business leaders uncover and analyse the information that’s important to their business, but chances are that without custom business intelligence tools they are missing out on the advanced functionality that could greatly improve their business operations, employee productivity and profitability.
One of the reasons that of all the business intelligence tools available, dashboards are by far the most popular, as they offer a consolidated, visual display of a company’s most important data.
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By integrating data from multiple sources, using a dashboard allows users to get an understanding of the big picture, essentially making complex data digestible and useful. With user adoption as one of the biggest challenges facing business intelligence (BI), this is vital.
As BI turns raw data into useful information, therefore aiding the decision-making process, the technology underpinning it needs to be able to handle large volumes of structured and unstructured data, turning it into reports which are easily understood, and deliver insights that provide the businesses with a competitive advantage and help their long-term stability. If results are hard to access and reports are difficult to interpret, users won’t make effective use of the system and its value for the business will be reduced.
Access all areas
Today’s users have high expectations of products they use. They expect to be able to access BI via a mobile device, customise the interface and information to their specific needs and swiftly target relevant data. Custom BI software can mean it’s easily accessible via desktop, laptop, mobile or tablet, enabling leaders to view their organisation whenever and wherever they choose.
It combines graphs and charts with powerful, intelligent business analytics so they can not only see, quickly and clearly how their organisation is doing in real-time, but take the necessary corrective actions earlier to prevent small issues becoming bigger problems. It also enables users to learn more about any element of the dashboard by drilling down to a more detailed view of data, enabling them to both address issues and harness opportunities.
While the latest innovations, such as machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) or the Internet of Things (IoT), all present technology leaders with a unique opportunity to lead their organisations into an era where data analysis is the foundation for all business decisions, every organisation will embark on this journey at its own pace.
Ultimately, readiness to adopt any new technology will be determined by end users and their ability and willingness to adopt new innovations and embrace process change. Business intelligence tools are the ideal solution to help organisations take the first step.
Sourced by Robert Dagge, managing director at Dynistics
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