Moving to BI 3.0
Over 3 years ago when Corinium started researching the South African data analytics market 'Business Intelligence' was generally referred to as the old way of doing things. "There are far more useful things on the horizon. The future is advanced analytics and data science" people would tell us.
And perhaps that was true at the time. BI was largely a term used to describe the provision of management reports based on historical information used to make decisions about future business activities. The reports weren't particularly 'smart' and they couldn't suggest actions. And, yeah, they were often slightly inaccurate because data quality wasn't a big focus either. But BI was relied upon...still is. Only now - it's taken a step into the future.
It's All Data Science & Predictive Models
Our research with a broad cross-section of BI professionals uncovered one clear area of modernisation: the fusion of traditional BI and data science.
Although many of the organisations we spoke haven't yet fully achieved the integration of BI and the models developed by data science teams it's viewed as an important part of the roadmap. Many felt that the BI function was best placed to effectively productionise the models and take them to business. After all, business has an inherent trust in the BI function because they've been around for longer.
Imagine, now, the added value BI Reports will have if they're laced with both predictive and prescriptive insights. And who better to vouch for the validity of these insights than the trusted Head of Business Intelligence?
But First...Data Quality
Pragmatic. Realistic. These two words describe BI professionals who, despite the excitement of ML-developed models, know that focus still needs to be put on data quality.
It's here, once again, that the BI function can leverage their relationship with the custodians of data - whether centralised or decentralised - to drive data quality and management but not necessarily own the programs. There are two competing/conflicting mantras in this environment though. One being "Garbage In, Garbage Out" and the other being "Done is Better than Perfect."
In a fast paced business environment decisions need to be made on the fly. Executives need immediate access to information. There's no waiting around for drawn out data quality programs. As a team BI, Data Governance and Data Science Units need to balance the ability to get insights to business quickly vs. the quality of the data being fed to the machine.
Let Them Play
For most organisations the ultimate end-goal is to create successful SSBI environments. By putting the power of dashboard and insights development into the hands of the user decisions will get made quicker and with direct business context. Traditionally there's been a reluctance to let 'non-experts' play with the data. But now it's almost demanded.
Our research shows that BI, and analytics, functions are now driving SSBI through well-governed environments. The realisation being that insights derived by business are more likely to be actioned. The BI function now plays a role in creating these 'sandpits' and can spend more time on data quality and the integration of models into the environment.
BI's Always Done It
In 2017 MIT identified the 'Data Translator' as the next big job role in data analytics. If 'Data Scientist' was the sexiest title of that time then 'Data Translator' was the one that was going to take over the mantle.
But, when you look at it the BI function has always been tasked with translating the data into a story for management. And most Heads of BI agree that, along with Business Analysts, they are now effectively the bridge between data science and business. A bridge that's required over this vast abyss of a language/communication gap.
The future of BI, then, is to change as well as to stay the same. Modernise what goes into reports but continue to tell the story that lies within the data. And teach business to find their own stories and to drive actionable insights.
Be part of the Future.(BI) conversation at the BI 3.0 Focus Day at CDAO Africa on 16 July 2019 at The Maslow. Facilitating the discussions are:
Richardt Schoonwinkel, Chief Data Officer, Bayport Financial Services (promoted from Group Head of BI)
Jacqui Greeff, Head of Business Intelligence & Strategic Planning, SUNTORY Food & Beverage
Daniel Seymore, Head of Business Intelligence, Investec Private Bank
Russel Clarke, Head of Business Intelligence, FNB iDigi-Tech Infrastructure & Operations
Vikesh Rameshwur, Divisional Head: Business Intelligence & Collaboration, South African Reserve Bank
Rob Zagey, Head of Business Intelligence, Stanlib