Opinion December top reader pick: What’s in store for next-generation BI platforms?

Published
  • January 02 2018, 6:05am EST

Business intelligence tools are no longer just for IT. Users of various skill levels are increasingly expected to use tools to analyze data and derive insight. And today, more users than ever before are participating in the uploading, analyzing, and sharing of vital company data.

With these considerations in mind, major BI providers are building tools designed to introduce more employees to data analytics. The next generation of BI platforms are requiring design overhauls to meet the needs of an increasingly tech-savvy workforce as well as the strategic needs of organizations. Providers are working to accomplish this goal by developing platforms that focus on three key areas: accessibility, collaboration, and consumability.

Focus on Accessible Analytics

BI platforms of the past were intimidating and overly-technical because they were designed for use by IT professionals. While this provided necessary data governance and supported the needs of executive reporting, these platforms were virtually untouchable for other users.

Today’s developing standard is to design an inclusive experience for everyone. Users will be able to consume analytics in intuitive formats, such as a ‘book of business’ organized into pages and chapters relevant to their role in the organization. Responsive design will ensure that a consistent, clean interface will render across all devices, ensuring fast access to key actions and more visualization options. No more clutter. No more overly complicated charts and spreadsheets.

Encourage Safe Collaboration and Sharing

The move to self-service BI has caused profound shifts in the industry. While it has helped spur new waves of innovation, in some ways it has hindered collaboration and information sharing. Organizations that value collaboration are quick to acknowledge that involving more employees working with data increases the risks of contamination.

The next generation of platforms will feature the capacity to safely share insights while maintaining governance. We’ll see platforms that allow users to interact by asking questions, highlighting trends, or calling attention to specific data points by commenting directly within an interface. By tagging people in discussion threads, users can send notifications to colleagues to alert them when their attention is required.

Don’t Neglect Consumability

What good are access and collaboration if the benefits aren’t easily consumable? In the past, widespread consumption wasn’t necessary. Only IT had to understand the technology enough to distill reporting and insights for executives and other high-level decision makers. Today, analysts, business users, and employees across departments can all benefit from a BI platform.

By designing next-generation BI platforms that fit into the daily workflow of every employee across the enterprise, we’ll see adoption and consumption skyrocket across industries and use cases. Platforms will begin to add value in ways that fit into how people already work. Using analytics will become as simple as checking an email, tapping a notification on your mobile phone, or messaging a colleague.

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Tim Lang

Tim Lang

Tim Lang is senior executive vice president and chief technology officer at MicroStrategy, Inc., a BI platform provider.