The Real BI Trends in 2018

The IT industry and the world at large have always been subject to technology and business trends, sometimes undergoing major changes, such as the development of the personal computer, client/server computing, the evolution of the internet, and now cloud computing.

Over the last few years, new trends have emerged that have had an enormous influence on how organizations work, interact, communicate, collaborate and protect themselves.

IT ‘meta-trends’ influence organizations’ strategies, operations and investments in a wide variety of ways: Digitalization and security & privacy seem to make the most headlines now, but agility, cloud, mobile and artificial intelligence are also major technology drivers.

These meta-trends can be considered as the main drivers behind a number of important trends, either related to the use of software and technologies for business intelligence/analytics (BI) and data management or to the way the use of technology is organized in companies.

BARC’s BI Trend Monitor 2018 reflects on the business intelligence and data management trends currently driving the BI market from a user perspective.

In order to obtain useful data for the BI Trend Monitor, we asked almost 2,800 users, consultants and vendors for their views on the most important BI trends. Their responses reveal a comprehensive picture of the future of BI as well as regional, company and industry-specific differences, delivering an up-to-date, objective perspective on the business intelligence market.

Importance of Business Intelligence Trends in 2018 (n=2,770)

The Most (and Least) Important BI Trends in 2018

We asked users, consultants and software vendors of BI and data management technology to rate their personal view of the importance of twenty trending topics that we presented to them.

Data quality/master data management, data discovery/visualization and self-service BI are the three topics BI practitioners identify as the most important trends in their work.

At the other end of the spectrum, data labs/data science, cloud BI and spatial/location intelligence were voted as the least important of the twenty trends covered in BARC’s survey.

This shows that ‘hyped’ topics or initiatives in early-moving companies cannot win a greater mindshare as important business intelligence trends than more mainstream topics like data discovery and self-service BI, or fundamentally important topics that have been around for a while like data quality and master data management.

Importance of BI Trends (Timeline)

Our View on the Results

For the first time, data quality and master data management was voted as the most important trend this year. Our 2,770 participants send a strong message – highly appealing topics like data discovery, visualization and self-service BI are nothing without a solid foundation of data.

We hope this perceived importance does not lead to initiatives that are announced with a fanfare before quickly moving down the list of priorities – as has often happened in the past. Business intelligence will not work without comprehensive data integration and data quality initiatives, but these have to be backed up with the right level of attention, resources and funding.

All four of the following top trends – data discovery / visualization, self-service BI, data governance and data preparation for business users – are related. Business users need more autonomy and agility when it comes to integrating, analyzing and visualizing data. Often they achieve it (e.g. by using self-service tools), but when too many people have too much freedom to manipulate and communicate data, a call for more data governance is the natural reaction to restore trust in data and efficiency in decision-making.

It is interesting to note that the average rating of most trends has decreased this year. It looks like the overall importance of BI has decreased, although it remains at a good level with absolute average scores of 6.4 to 6.9 for the top three rated trends.

Trends that ranked higher compared to previous years include data preparation for business users, collaboration and using external/open data.

While collaboration is a more organizational topic, which supports the increased use of BI across different user types within the organization, using external/open data is more commonly linked to typical digitalization initiatives. Analyzing IoT/sensor or log data in real time and expanding the available data space beyond internally available data (e.g. for building predictive models) are new application areas that companies are exploring.

While concrete big data use cases are thriving, participants rank the more (maybe too) general topics “big data analytics” and “predictive analytics” as considerably less important than in previous years.

The same is true for mobile BI, agile BI development and integrated platforms for BI and performance management. This perceived decrease in importance might result from the maturity of the trends and the fact that many companies have already adopted them, making room for other topics to gain in importance.

In the next few weeks and months, we will post and update a series of articles looking at each BI trend in more detail. You will learn how different regions, industries, user types, company sizes and best-in-class companies rate the various trends and how their views have changed since last year. Sign up for our newsletter below and we’ll keep you informed about the latest articles.

BARC BI Trend Monitor 2018

The full study features analyst commentary and user ratings of 20 trends in the BI market

Request the free report now
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