In the past few years, I have observed two distinct phenomenons: the democratization of business intelligence software and the rise of the ‘’data scientist”. Such has created a large pool of users who are collaborating amongst each other as well as with external stakeholders. Vendors are quickly adapting to such trends.
User-friendly software, high returns
It is safe to say that a significant number of white collar professionals use some form business intelligence on a regular basis. Business Intelligence and analytics software vendors have made significant efforts to make their product offering user-friendly. Such has created an enormous market that will reach $16.9 Billion (USD) this year according to Gartner.
The rise of the data scientist
In parallel, a new class of professionals has emerged: the data scientist. This is not an homogeneous group by any stretch; it is composed of individuals from various backgrounds: economists, data engineers, mathematicians and statisticians just to name a few. As of late 2015, as much as 19,400 individuals identified as such based on research from RJMetrics.
While it is far from straightforward to define what a data scientist does, these professionals possess a deep knowledge of data processing and analysis and participate actively in the ever expanding business intelligence movement. In recent years, companies of various sizes have set up teams and departments catering to those high-level workers. Naturally vendors are targeting data scientists with powerful and flexible solutions.
Sharing dashboards and reports: a growing need
This exponential growth has led such professionals to share components of BI software such as dashboards and reporting with their peers and other stakeholders inside and outside their organizations. Business intelligence vendors are adapting to this new reality by adding collaboration functionalities into existing offerings.
For example, IBM is adding Jupyter notebooks to its IBM Analytics for Apache Spark service which “allows you to create and share documents that contain live code, equations, visualizations and explanatory text”. The goal is to create a more end-to-end environment which would provide a more integrated framework for data scientists and other BI professionals.
Publishing: the next frontier
The next logical step for business intelligence software is the ability to publish or syndicate dashboards and reports to external environments.
Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that it’s making a “publish to web” functionality in Power BI available at no additional cost: “the feature lets users take data visualizations they’ve created inside Power BI and share publicly accessible versions with dedicated URLs and HTML snippets that can be incorporated into other websites”. Microsoft is also adding an “embedded feature” which integrates data visualizations natively into other applications.
This makes a lot of sense because it creates a more integrated, seamless set of tools that will allow the BI community to collaborate and engage with a much wider range of external stakeholders and cut the middleman on many occasions.
The business intelligence community is growing and evolving and so is the software offering that accompanies it. In the next 5 years vendors could introduce even further developments, especially with the rapid growth of artificial intelligence potentially dramatically improving automation and predictive functionalities. Exciting times ahead.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.