Skip to main content

Trend Watch: Business Intelligence and Business Analytics

This is the eighth post in a multi-part series with a focus on trends that are interesting and important, specifically in enterprise computing. In this brief article, I’ll continue my point-in-time analysis with a focus on the subjects of business intelligence (BI) and business analytics (BA). Has BI and BA entered a new era in extracting insights from data?

BI and BA—the Same or Different?
Business intelligence and analysis is a highly specialized area and one that undergoes an unusual level of change and innovation. Before we examine them more closely, lets start with a comparison of BI and BA by Pat Roche who works in the field: “Business intelligence is needed to run the business while business analytics are needed to change the business.

“Business intelligence is focused on creating operational efficiency through access to real-time data enabling individuals to most effectively perform their job functions. BI also includes analysis of historical data from multiple sources enabling informed decision making as well as problem identification and resolution.

“Business analytics relates to the exploration of historical data from many source systems through statistical analysis, quantitative analysis, data mining, predictive modeling, and other technologies and techniques to identify trends and understand the information that can drive business change and support sustained successful business practices.”

Perhaps, not every BI practitioner or BA data scientist agrees with this well-ordered differentiation but the areas of focus are different and each area is innovating rapidly. In “Critical Capabilities for BI and Analytics Platforms,”  Gartner indicates that the BI market has shifted—more user driven, more visual with dashboards from a broader range of sources. Additionally, BA is being enhanced with natural-language generation and artificial intelligence with a movement away from IT-centric to business-user driven actions.
Takeaway: BI and BA are changing and growing and organizations that are supporting and using services and products should be aware of the changes that may help improve the data-driven ways they improve and grow their businesses.

A New Era
There are new areas of focus as the BI and BA products change to meet the needs of business and business users. Artificial intelligence is likely to have a significant impact on gathering useful data and producing even more worthwhile outputs supporting data visualization and predictive analytics. Cloud services are increasingly providing a platform for BI and BA that offers the ability to pay-as-you-go for computing power and service capabilities. Specialization of BI and BA skills and tools merits a special focus that could be helped by the establishment of a center of excellence (COE). The COE is an old approach but one that is proven in many organizations as a way to put increased focus on a specialized and important IT and business discipline. For more on BI and BA trends check out five years: top 10 speculations for the future of BI and the top 11 business intelligence and analytics trends for 2017.

Watson Has a Role-Based Approach
IBM has explored many business-challenge areas leveraging Watson technology. With IBM Watson Analytics, the focus is on predictive analytics and data visualization—two areas of innovation and importance previously mentioned. IBM Watson Analytics supports different ways to tap into the tools value. Its role-based approach is compelling supporting marketing, sales, IT, operations, HR and finance job roles. This is the set of roles currently explored by the tool.

Next Post
Next week, I’ll continue this point-in-time analysis of trends with a focus on Java. Java was developed starting in the early 1990s. Now, more that 25 years later, what impact has it made on systems, applications and application development? Where is it heading?