Gartner: Business Users to Lead Analytic Output by 2019

Technology PCmag

If your company has invested more in self-service business intelligence (BI) tools within the past few years, then you're not alone. According to a Gartner Research forecast, the adoption of BI, analytics, and other types of software has become so widespread that, by 2019, the overall analytical output of non-technical business users will surpass that of professional, trained data scientists. Clearly, data democratization can put data and analytics in the hands of virtually everyone in an organization. While analytic insights can be a boon to predicting outcomes and decision making, Gartner also advises that companies adopt these technologies with careful thought and preparation.

Continue Reading Below

"The trend of digitalization is driving demand for analytics across all areas of modern business and government," said Carlie J. Idoine, Research Director for Business Analytics and Data Science at Gartner, in a statement. "Rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) (cloud) analytics, and BI platforms are making it easier and more cost-effective than ever before for non-specialists to perform effective analysis and better inform their decision making." Long gone are the days when a professional needed a deep understanding of Structured Query Language (SQL)-based databases in order to compile and make sense of vast amounts of disparate information. Platforms such as Tableau Desktop have made great strides in the past decade when it comes to offering clean, easy-to-understand utilities. As a result, organizations of all types and sizes can leverage these tools and drive their analytic operations.

CIOs and Shifting Priorities

This prediction comes in part from the 2018 Gartner CIO Agenda Survey to which more than 3,000 Chief Information Officers (CIOs) responded. The results of this study suggest that the role of the CIO is changing from one focused solely on information technology (IT) delivery management to being a change leader in the company. New duties of these executives include spearheading investments into BI usage and training members of an organization into effectively using these tools.

The respondents in the survey named BI and analytics as the top differentiating technologies in their field. These applications are attracting the most new investment and are considered the most strategic technology by the CIOs, which Gartner noted as "top-performing." These executives have found themselves the creators of what the firm refers to as a "data-driven culture" within their company.

The Pitfalls

Continue Reading Below

Despite all of the benefits that BI tools can bring to an organization, Idoine warns of dangers involved in adopting such advanced technology in the workplace. "If data and analytics leaders simply provide access to data and tools alone, self-service initiatives often don't work out well," Idoine writes. "This is because the experience and skills of business users vary widely within individual organizations. Therefore, training, support, and onboarding processes are needed to help most self-service users produce meaningful output."

While BI software offers powerful analytical tools that are easier to use than methods of the past, Gartner says that the implementation process can take businesses by surprise, particularly in larger organizations where the initiatives can encompass thousands of users.

Gartner highlights a number of areas that should be considered in order to minimize risks and build a strong foundation for BI. It is recommended that businesses align self-service initiatives with the desired outcomes of the organization. Communicating its impact and linking it to good outcomes for the organization will help build confidence into the technology. Additionally, Idoine suggests that involving business users into the design and development of the software will help establish trust between IT staff and the employees who will be using BI. Administrators should also allow for a data governance model that will encourage free-form exploration of the app and all it has to offer. Organizations should listen to user feedback and use it to perfect and customize BI tools to their unique needs.

Perhaps most importantly, however, customers should launch these programs under a structured installation plan. "Data and analytics leaders must support enthusiastic business self-service users with the right guidance on how to get up and running quickly, as well as how to apply their new tools to their specific business problems," Idoine advises. "A formal onboarding plan will help automate and standardize this process, making it far more scalable as self-service usage spreads throughout the organization."

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.