Data analysis and data analytics is not just for data analysts. Instead, professionals throughout the organization want to get intimate with the potential of data.

That is a growing trend identified by Dan Sommer, senior director of market intelligence for Qlik, who spoke with Information Management at the recent Gartner Business Intelligence Summit in Grapevine, TX. Sommer shared his observations on what summit attendees are most struggling with around analytics and business intelligence, and how the vendor community is responding.

 

Information Management: What are the most common themes that you heard among conference participants and how do those themes align with what you expected?

Dan Sommer: Gartner’s recent Magic Quadrant, where significant changes had been made, was an omnipresent discussion topic at the conference. For many years, self-service has been the big trend, but we’re past the tipping point, where user and business-driven requirements, facilitated by IT, is now the norm.

At the Gartner Business Intelligence and Analytics Summit, many of our conversations revolved around the desire for individuals to manipulate and analyze data themselves. Data exploration should not only be conducted by business analysts, but an entire organization – from executives to the bulk of the workforce. This is symptomatic of a wider shift in the analytics community that has been going on for a while. Namely, the industry is moving away from a reporting-centric perspective with some analysis, to an analysis-centric perspective with some reporting. As this happens, self-service and agility needs to continue to scale to become much more enterprise-class. Many of our discussions at the summit were with executives and department heads who are looking to implement more scalable, performance-focused and governed self-service analytics initiatives in their companies.

 

IM: What are the most common challenges that attendees are facing with regard to data management and data analytics?

DS: The gradual move toward user empowerment has challenged the balance between centralization and decentralization, and companies are re-calibrating the right mix for their needs. Many businesses want to centralize control of the data to increase efficiency. However, a one-size-fits-all approach does not always work, and many departments would prefer to use their own, unique solutions.

This is something that Qlik has sought to solve by letting companies centralize data repositories, while also allowing departmental autonomy over how that data further enriched, expressed and managed, and where the data models can be promoted allowing agility and governance.

 

IM: What are the most surprising things that you heard from attendees regarding their data management initiatives?

DS: Everyone at the summit was passionate and buoyant about the future of analytics and BI with their organizations. However, the talent gap remains, as does the gap of deriving value from big data. What has now changed is how quickly it’s dawned on people that innovation is happening in the fringe, and that innovation often comes from interesting combinations of data, people and ideas, as opposed to siloes of business analysts working on one data source at the time. The continuous workflow around capturing, combining, experimenting and then collaborating and telling stories with information are something that companies will focus more on to bridge the gap through 2016.

 

IM: How do these themes and challenges relate to your company’s market strategy this year?

DS: Qlik has always been about user- and business driven analytics. But Qlik has anticipated that self-service analytics will mature to become more demanding, varied and scalable.

With a re-architected open, modern and extensible analytic platform, Qlik has a nice innovation ramp enabling both the depth of the integrated data preparation, management and analysis experience, as well as the breadth to serve multiple analytic use-cases. Qlik’s ecosystem with thousands of partners, customers and users will further push the innovation possibilities around the platform.

 

IM: What does your company view as the top issues or challenges with regard to data management and data analytics in 2016

Innovation very often happens in the fringe, and enabling as many users as possible to see the whole story in combinations of data will continue to be the key. In this case, the challenge is to capture the innovation and findings that come from that, and industrializing it.

Enabling applications, data and people to be certified and promoted to share with broader audiences will be the key to moving BI and analytic leaders from being seen as gate-keepers to shop-keepers. Decision making is a continuous process, and increasing the collaboration around data improves the quality of that data.

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