Business Analytics | The story of 2016

Business analytics has come a long way during 2016. From the exclusive property of analysts to something that’s now easily accessible to all business users, analytics is developing rapidly and so, as we approach the halfway point in the year, we thought we’d take a look at our own seventh heaven of the latest trends – you might call it an analysis of analytics.

Trend number one | There are analytics for everyone

As stated, 2016 has arguably been the year in which business analytics have “broken out” into the mainstream. They are no longer confined to IT professionals – instead we’re seeing them widely used by business users to analyse their own data, look for patterns, answer questions and predict future outcomes no matter what business they may be attached to.

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In fact, you could say that business analytics have become a central part of business strategies. According to research by Salesforce.com, 60 per cent of the best performing companies in its survey said they are actively using data in order to make business decisions – whereas among those who are under performing, just 13 per cent are utilising business analytics.

Trend number two | Analytics are becoming more wide reaching

It’s not just a case of different users utilising business analytics: it’s also the case that analytics have seeped their way into different aspects of each business. Now they are used in many different environments, including to: optimise operational processes, generate ideas, monitor customers, find new streams of revenue, facilitate growth and make businesses more efficient.

According to the same survey, around one in three business leaders are using analytics in at least one of these areas. To do so they are tracking a much wider array of data too: including everything from event driven data to transactions and social media.

Trend number three | New tools are making things simpler

Rather than put all data in one place, there has been a rise in new data sources and enhanced tools which are allowing businesses to break down the data they gather that little bit more easily.

At the heart of this are agile methods and tools that allow users to identify the data they need before integrating it across different platforms. Some of the tools that have emerged and become more popular include Lavastorm, Alteryx and Informatica – these programs will integrate with end analysis programs such as Tableau in order to make the end-to-end flow of data that little bit more straightforward.

Trend number four | Real-time analysis has taken off

Business analytics used to revolve around gathering reports at the end of the month with reams of data and then trying to assess some trends. However, now business analytics is focused on real-time data – allowing you to make fast decisions with data as soon as it becomes available.

So imagine you’re launching an email campaign… you send out your newsletter and you want to see the reaction. Now you can get a minute-by-minute breakdown of how many opens you have received and how many links have been clicked on through Google Analytics and other basic business analytical programs. This, of course, also allows you to quickly identify problems – so if the same email newsletter is not receiving the level of reaction you had expected then perhaps you can identify a sending issue and try again quickly without losing any traction.

Again, among the high performing business leaders, 59 per cent suggested they are able to get insights in a timely fashion using analytical tools – well ahead of just 11 per cent among those who are not so successful.

Trend number five | Growth of mobile analytics

In the past, mobile analytics was an effective interface for legacy business intelligence – however, now it has expanded significantly.

A host of new products have emerged offering first time mobile experiences. Whereas in the past they were very much in their infancy, now they are actively addressing enterprise deployment and helping transmit information safely and securely across devices.

Trend number six | Big data solutions

With an ever increasing level of data available, more and more companies are investing in big data solutions. Hadoop has gained fast traction among enterprises and in order to meet the ever expanding user demand, there are many new technologies that have emerged. Among the names to look out for are: At Scale, Jethro Data, Cloudera Impala, Spark and Actian Vector. These programs allow Hadoop to blur the gap between traditional business information and big data.

It seems that businesses are in general moving away from single “one size fits all” solutions and are moving towards flexible and open stacks that take new considerations into account.

Trend number seven | Analytics has been democratised

There used to be a time when analytics were reserved exclusively for the company’s top brass. However, now businesses are seeing the value in placing analytics in front of their employees – 41 per cent say that more than half their staff now makes use of analytical tools. The benefits are there for all to see with fast reactions and a better understanding of how a product or service functions driving better performance throughout different sectors of a business.

Of course, there are still challenges ahead for business analytics – with many still relying on manual processes to access data and more education needed about how to make use of the data that is available – so much of it appears to be going wasted. Still, it’s clear that 2016 has been a breakthrough year already – and the latest chapter in the business analytics story has only just begun.

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