Experts, too, acknowledged this transformation. An IDC Asia Pacific study, during the year, revealed that more than half of the organisations analysed considered big data and analytics as crucial for business.
Where are things headed next? We’ve gathered the opinions and observations of our experts who serve hundreds of thousands of customers around the world. Here are our predictions.
1. Modern BI becomes the new normal
In 2016, organisations began the shift to modern BI, moving analytics from the hands of the few to many. We’ve moved “past the tipping point of a more than 10- to 11-year transition away from IT-centric reporting platforms to modern BI and analytics platforms,” according to Gartner’s 2016 Business Intelligence Magic Quadrant. Gartner also noted that today “every business is an analytics business, every business process is an analytics process and every person is an analytics user.”
With trusted and scalable platforms, organisations are empowering even non-analysts to explore governed data and collaborate with their findings. In 2017, the shift to modern BI will near its end as it becomes the norm for global enterprises, early-stage startups, and everything in between.
2. Collaboration (with data) is king
Like many things in life, many heads are better than one when it comes to business analytics. According to another recent study by IDC Asia Pacific, organisations in the region who achieved success with their big data and analytics initiatives had collaboration processes in place among staff to share relevant data, metrics, and best practices.
In 2017, collaborative analytics will take center stage as governed data becomes more accessible and cloud technology enables easy sharing.
This signals the end of an era in which information flowed in one direction. Gone are the days of sharing data via static PDFs or PowerPoint decks. In 2017, people will share their workbooks and data sources. They’ll build on each other’s work and iterate to answer their own questions. They’ll leverage the cloud and other sharing functionalities like email alerts and subscriptions to stay in touch. And they’ll embed their dashboards within other enterprise applications to reach people where they are.
3. IT becomes the data hero
IT spent years stuck in the endless churn of the report factory. Now, it’s finally IT’s time to shine. IT is at the helm of the transformation to self-service analytics at scale. IT will provide the flexibility and agility the business needs to innovate, all while balancing governance and data security. And by empowering the organisation to make data-driven decisions at the speed of business, IT will emerge as the data hero who helps shape the future of the business.
4. The transition to the cloud accelerates
With organisations moving their data to the cloud (as cloud solutions become more secure, reliable and easier to use), analytics’ move to the cloud has reached a tipping point. In 2017, the concept of data gravity will take hold as more businesses realize the value of deploying their analytics where their data lives. Cloud data warehouses like Amazon Redshift will continue to pull data, and cloud analytics will become more prevalent as a result. While many organisations will continue to deploy a hybrid architecture of cloud and on-premise solutions, cloud analytics will increasingly represent a faster and more scalable solution.
5. Business analytics gets advanced
Business users have grown more data-savvy. Advanced analytics has grown more approachable. In 2016, a partner at McKinsey & Company commented that “we have to stop thinking of advanced analytics as some form of magic,” and that not just data scientists, but business users themselves need to be able to extract value from data to make better business decisions.
In 2017, these two will converge as advanced analytics becomes the standard for the business user. Advanced analytics will no longer be reserved for data scientists and experts. Business users are already leveraging powerful analytics functions like k-means clustering and forecasting. And in 2017, they’ll continue to expand their analytics skill set.
6. Data literacy becomes a fundamental skill of the future
In 2016, LinkedIn listed business intelligence as one of the hottest skills to get you hired. Earlier this year, IDC Asia Pacific noted that the lack of big data-related talent would remain as one of the biggest obstacles for many Asia Pacific organisations, while professional services in that area will have a 29% CAGR in the region by 2020.
In 2017, data analytics will become a mandatory core competency for professionals of all types. Much like proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, basic proficiency in analytics will become a staple in the workplace. To meet this need, we’ll see analytics and data programmes permeate higher education. In the workforce, people will leverage intuitive BI platforms, and data will play a role in every major decision.
Top tier educational institutions in the region are doing what they can to keep up. For example, the National University of Singapore (NUS) recently announced a new degree programme in Data Science and Analytics for the new academic year (of 2017), and many other schools have already done or are expected to do the same.