The Age of Analytics, as Told by Three 2017 Reports

What happens when a new report, study, survey or prediction is published? You momentarily engage in the findings, give a little, “humph!”, and probably go about your day. But what happens when multiple studies, surveys and research papers all pretty much say the same thing? The thing that you probably realize you should be doing? Maybe you really start to think, “is this the year I do something about it?”

Let’s take a look at three reports released in the last few days and months on business intelligence and analytics, and see if there’s a common theme. Shall we?

The Age of Analytics, by McKinsey Global Institute

Changing the fundamental way we do business, is the potential of analytics. Imagine what could be if companies that haven’t yet embraced BI and analytics move into the fold, and those that have were to accelerate their transformation.

What does that mean for your business?

As stated in the report, “the value of data depends on its ultimate use, and ecosystems are evolving to help companies capture that value.” As you’ll see in the Tableau report below, it is becoming more valuable to make sure all employees have access to the data, so that the right people may see the right story within the data. So not only does IT have to play a large role in the implementation and rollout, but the organization should consider how analytics will change the business model. As McKinsey states, this should be perceived as the greatest opportunity to create value, improve performance, and change the nature of competition.

Read the summary on or download the full report here.


2017 SIM IT Trend Study

Every year, the Society for Information Management (SIM) produces their study of IT leaders and their most important IT management issues. And this year marks the eighth year in a row in which business intelligence and analytics reigns supreme.

It reigns in the sense that it is still the largest IT investment among 9 other categories. In fact, it continues to not only be an investment priority, but also a worrisome component that IT leaders wish could get an even larger investment.

The theory SIM holds is that IT leaders believe the difficulty staffing the skills needed may be to blame for their difficulty to deliver what business wants. Perhaps as well, is the perceived value of these technologies as being critical to business success. Either way, the fact that the sense of significance hasn’t diminished since 2009 speaks to the need of the organizations to be at a level of maturity not yet realized in most situations.

This report comes at a price, but is available free to SIM members. There is also a write-up of the report on

Top 10 BI Trends in 2017, by Tableau

So, assume these IT leaders surveyed in the SIM report finally got down to business. What exactly would they dig their heels into first? Tableau may know.

Every year they release this report based on a year’s worth of subject-matter experts speaking to thousands of customers around the globe. These predictions may even be more conclusive than the other two reports, given the widespread popularity of Tableau in the marketplace. Consider though, that these predictions are based on how businesses already experienced in BI are planning their future. To get your foot in the door, you may want to start slower, such as establish your BI roadmap.

In brief, their predictions include:

  •  All data becomes equal

  •  Self-service analytics extends to data prep

  •  Analytics are everywhere, thanks to embedded BI

  •  IT becomes the data hero

  •  People start to work with data in more natural ways

  •  The transition to the cloud accelerates

  •  Advanced analytics becomes more accessible

  •  Data literacy becomes a fundamental skill of the future

In general, becoming more data-savvy as a business and a data professional will elevate operations to a whole new playing field. If giving every employee access to dashboards and relevant insights is your end game, it’s time to get started “Now”.

Read the full report and download a PDF here. Tableau is part of the Smartbridge partner alliance.

The common theme among these three studies I reviewed above is quite apparent – this is what you should be doing as an organization, and this is the skill you should be acquiring, as an individual. Businesses are lagging in what they can do with what exists in the world today, and it’s up to IT to help the business thrive. There are wonderful BI tools such as Tableau, MicroStrategy, Spotfire and statistical modeling tools like R. But my advice is to really focus on the business innovation and let tools follow.

If you’re skeptical of the impact this could bring, or wondering how to extract data from legacy IT systems – or anything in between – let’s have an open discussion on what business transformation means for you.

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