Business Intelligence- Past and Future

By Rajesh Loganathan, Enterprise Technical Analyst (Solutions Architect), Metito Overseas Limited

The root of first generation Business Intelligence (BI) started in 1960’s along with the use of computer for business just begun. With the companies more obsessed with numbers and statistics, BI became a key subject in the late 80’s. The evolution of Relational database concepts paved way forward for fully developed BI industry.RDBMShelped us to convert and store raw data in more sophisticated and manageable way which seeded idea for advanced BI tools available today.

The second generation tools like Data-mining, Data-warehouse, ETL (Extract Transfer and Load) and Big-Data concepts facilitated us to translate the “Structured&Manageable” data in to more meaningful information. It also enabled us to bind information from various data-sources and store it in a centralized location, which has been made available for business users and executivesin the form of reports& dashboards with the help of BI Analyst.

All said and done, above approachesrequire 100% IT help, in the form of an in-house BI Analyst or an external consultant to make any tiniest of changes in the end-result. Though it is more sophisticated approach the limitation of skilled resource is almost costing the business at times. For the company taking right decision at right time with all available information is vital. To be dependent on someone to deliver a report for ever-changing scenario is almost impossible with this approach. Hence BI Analyst with business understanding as welltechnical skillswas more than essential for companies and not to mention they are the rare-breeds. BI Analytics became the hottest job in market and BI Analysts were heavily paid.

We are in transition to the 3rd generation BI Analytics. I said “in transition” because still we have to address few issues. One good example is the mental preparations of business users to working with their data directly anddevelops their own reports, they got used to making requests to IT in the past and it is more a mental acceptance rather than a new skill development. With more and more young people with decent computing knowledge turning as business users this will change dramatically.

The 3rd generation BI-tools involves less IT involvement, allows Business user to do their own business intelligence analysis. There are few tools like Tableau, Qlick, MicroStrategy etc.… arealready categorized in this generation, in-fact these tools are very great, to do off-line analysis and requires Zero scripting knowledge to produce reports from Excel and any-other pre-defined data-sources. Preparing reports and charts are done in no-time.  Playing with pivots and multi-dimensional grouping are cat-walks for anyone who has a decent excel skills.

With BI tools more targeted towards the Business users, what will happen to BI Analysts positions in future?  There will BI Analysts positions, but the job of BI Analysts in future would be creating and maintaining centralized data-sources and publishing it for business users. BI Analysts will not be developing reports and dashboard as they do now, their role will be more strategic. The importance of BI Analyst will not go down so is the pay-scale. Now the requiredtechnical skill level to operate BI tool is going down, Business users will thrive and do the additional role of areport and dashboard creator.This will reduce the turn-around cycle for change request and increases the ability to meet deadlines at ease.

As more and more data available, BI Analyst will play a major role in driving business data availability for users. His/her profile would be more challenging ever, as the market demands more and more dynamic data analysis and Business intelligence. This situation enables IT Business Intelligence to work more towards the actual business centric rather than just being Dashboard and Report factory. There is a flip-side to this, person who just doing technical development of reports and dashboard might lose his job unless he goes the extra-mile to understand business needs, various data-sources (ERP,SCM,CRM Etc..) and the bigger picture. If you are BI Analyst and still thinkingfancy report development and dashboard creation fetch you bread, then you need to think again. If you are business user and still relying on IT to deliver reports then you might have to re-think as well.

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