Written by Nick Driver
Posted on 10/12/2015

What are your business data plans for 2016?

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Another year brings with it new trends and approaches in business intelligence as firms seek to deliver more value for customers, protect their interests and get ahead of the competition. 2015 saw a sharper focus on data from more businesses, and the rise of certain applications of information is sure to carry on into the New Year and beyond. Now is the time to ask yourself: does your business have a solid data plan for 2016? And, are you aware of the trends that could shape how data is used during the next 12 months? Read on for four trends and approaches to consider, if you haven’t already.

Predict the future

For a long time the data held by firms was used to draw conclusions and devise strategy relating to customers and internal teams by looking backwards. Predictive analytics goes beyond descriptive analytics and historical reporting to make predictions about future occurrences, reducing guesswork and helping businesses to be more informed when making decisions. This approach is on the rise as the software that is needed is becoming more affordable and user-friendly. The advantages reach risk management, marketing, operations, and other key areas, which when combined and leveraged effectively can increase competitive advantage significantly. With many yet to embrace this approach, 2016 is the time to invest in it yourself if you have a clear problem to solve and masses of data to crunch.

Real-time analysis

Another business intelligence use heading for the mainstream is real-time analytics. The digital economy in particular has heightened the need for almost instant analysis of customer behaviour and other business critical actions. Clearly, the decision a customer made 30 seconds ago is much more relevant and valuable than one made 30 days ago. Apache Spark is one general processing engine that is leading the pack by processing vast amounts of data and delivering insights in near real-time. Highly scalable, the software has the backing of IBM who now offers it as a service on its Bluemix platforms.

Extract more value from your supply chain

Most business’ supply chains represent a significant cost component, but big data is increasingly being used to extract more value from it. The process of planning, sourcing and implementing a supply chain garners plenty of data that is ripe for analysis, if used effectively. To successfully apply business intelligence to the supply chain, your business needs to focus its insights on the planning stage. The learnings that are gained can be used to plan with greater accuracy, reducing waste or out of stock (OOS) events, for example, that harm competitiveness.

Empower more of your team

Taking a wider view, businesses are expected to empower more of their team with business intelligence, otherwise known as self-service business intelligence (SSBI). Such platforms give team members access to information without the need for ongoing support from IT professionals. The input of specialists is needed during the early stages to organise the data warehouse and implement the query and reporting, but after that, users have the freedom to generate personalised reports themselves. With more tech-savvy millennials entering the workplace, this stance makes sense. More individuals can take advantage of the data their firm holds, while IT professionals are freed up to focus on other tasks.

Big data presents a host of opportunities to drive business performance, add value, and manage risk if it is applied to a detailed plan underpinned by business objectives and clear goals. The above are just four ways you can leverage corporate information in 2016 and beyond.