Last year was a very interesting one in the field of data and analytics. On one hand, we saw many crystal balls being shattered. (Remember FiveThirtyEight.com’s election prediction?) The surprise Brexit vote and Trump’s win led some to declare that the age of data is dead. On the other hand, the investment in business intelligence and analytics was extremely high and continues to grow at a rapid pace. I believe that 2017 will be an even more exciting year and analytics will shape a lot of events related to business and beyond. Inspired by my colleague Brian Chapman’s post on the medtech trends for 2017, here are five key trends in the field of data and analytics—in medtech and beyond:
- Cloud analytics will continue to mature. Many organizations have already moved a majority of their business applications, like CRM and human resource management, to the cloud, bringing with it the realization that even their data warehouses and analytics should also live in the cloud. Adopters of the cloud will cite time-to-delivery of analytics and BI as primary business motivation for choosing cloud options. The financial drivers of minimized hardware and infrastructure cost, reduced implementation cost and reduced administrative cost will continue to drive the business case of moving to the cloud. The belief that cloud analytics will increasingly represent a faster and a more scalable solution will continue to prevail, closely integrating with all of the organization's business applications, both cloud-based and on premise. Cloud data warehouses like Amazon Redshift will continue to be massively popular data destinations, and vendors such as Birst, Good Data and even Tableau will continue to mature their cloud offerings, adding additional capabilities around unstructured data, advanced analytics and collaboration.
- Embedded BI will become mainstream. The true value of analytics kicks in only when you are able to embed and leverage those insights in your daily job. That’s the promise of embedded BI: BI and analytics tools consumed by the end users will be closely integrated with business applications such as CRM, human resource management and enterprise resource planning instead of being a separate platform. Embedded BI will thus improve user experience and productivity as time is saved from dealing with a separate analytics platform. The quality of the data will be higher due to higher governance around business applications. Insights will be quicker and more aligned with the daily business processes. Gartner’s 2016 embedded analytics reports predict that user adoption of embedded BI will increase to 87% in 2017, driven by the fact that that data and analytics are increasingly becoming commoditized; they’re no longer seen as a luxury for the richer corporations but a necessity for almost any kind of data-driven business, and even for consumers and individuals who would like to be making better-informed decisions in their day-to-day lives.
- “Collaborative analytics” will become a buzzword. The notion that many heads are better than one when it comes to solving really complex problems will also apply to business analytics. In 2017, information flow will cease to be unidirectional and will become more conversational. Data will be shared live through interactive reports to drive business consensus and decision making. Collaboration will not be rewarded but will be necessitated by bringing together people, processes, data and tools into a cohesive culture driven by technology (such as alerts, subscriptions and annotations) toward a more open and adaptive way of working. Asymmetry in insights—insights being in the hands of and controlled by a few—will continue to diminish, and insights will be democratized speedily across an organization that’s working toward a common goal of outpacing their competitors to serve their customers better. People will build on each other’s work and iterate to solve problems, and they’ll expand their roles to empower themselves to not just consume insights but also generate them easily through collaboration.
- Analytics will be treated as a fundamental competency. In 2017, data analytics will become a mandatory core competency for professionals across all areas of the organization, much like the proficiency expected in the Microsoft Office suite, such as Excel and PowerPoint. We will see data and analytics courses proliferate in online learning, higher education and even in K-12 programs. Companies will invest heavily in training their analysts and business operators. Business users will embrace data savviness, and advanced analytics will go beyond the realm of the unicorns (aka data scientists) and permeate into the masses. Powerful analytics and algorithms such as K-means or Monte Carlo will be leveraged more frequently by business users than ever before.
- The BI to AI transition will accelerate. The gap between BI and artificial intelligence will reduce. Executives will want to rely less on viewing reports and more on actionable, context-specific, prescriptive insights delivered to them on the device of their choice. There will be focused efforts in bringing consumer-oriented, voice-activated AI software such as Amazon Echo, Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant to answer business questions by integrating them with the data warehouses. Business-oriented AI such as IBM’s Watson and Saleforce’s Einstein will continue to see growth in predicting key sales and marketing trends, saving time for the data scientists to be more evolved and creative to solve even more complex business challenges.
As always, these are just predictions, and I look forward to your thoughts on whether they seem realistic. Regardless, 2017 will definitely be an interesting time for the U.S. business landscape, and we’ll have to wait to see the impact of analytics on shaping the industry.
BLOG POST: Three Steps for Medtech's Analytics Success