By Yolanda Smit, Strategic Business Intelligence manager at PBT Group.
Today, everybody is ‘talking’ digital. Any organisation not on the path of digital transformation will face the very real possibility of being ‘left behind’ in what can be considered a very volatile business market.
While the past year has been less about technological innovation itself, and more focused on how organisations are embracing the digital revolution (and the technologies that encompass this); does this then affect how organisations view Business Intelligence (BI) and its role in the digital world?
In a traditional sense, when examining BI, phrases like reporting, dashboards and visualisation still come to mind - where executive by-in on the technology remains low and businesses tending to understand that they need some ‘form of BI’ to help them deal with the copious amounts of data. However, many still don’t see its value.
Of course, we know that the technology and digital ‘evolution’, in the past, forced organisations to think differently about technology investments and to do it quickly. Unfortunately, in many instances, this led to business decision makers jumping onto far too many technology bandwagons. As a result of this legacy, BI still seems to hold a slightly tainted view, where its value is questioned with anticipation that it will likely fail. However, when one looks at the digital world and the amount of data digital is generating – BI, and all the concepts that fall under this umbrella discipline (including data integration, Big Data, data lakes and reservoirs as well as Analytics and Data Science, as examples) - play a very strategic role in the digital era, one that should be explored far more for the future success of any organisation.
Even industries which, in the past, rarely relied on BI (like manufacturing), have had to start embracing it thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) and all the connected devices that generate data. In doing so, manufacturing companies are now able to analyse and quickly identify any internal challenges – like problems with logistics or equipment - and respond timely to mitigate risk. This is “Industry 4.0” – Manufacturers using data strategically to obtain a strong competitive advantage.
And this is the key. How companies utilise their data will differentiate them in the digital world, which means that decision-makers either need to use data effectively or risk losing out. In my opinion, this is where a change in executive mind-set needs to come in.
BI is not an old, boring technology trying to find its place in the digital world. Rather, it is a key strategic enabler of a digital business, where scientific and intentional exploitation of data can generate insights that lead to real business success. It is pivotal that BI is invested in and exploited intentionally and appropriately.
It is time for decision makers to get past the hype and ‘traditional’ mind-set of BI and get back to understanding that all the available forms of BI exist to better their business.