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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

Three Trends That Will Advance Citizen Analytics

ROI, KPIs, and dashboards will all play a part in expanding citizen analytics.

Looking back over the past 20 years of data and analytics, you can easily track the trends that have shaped the market. We recognize many of those trends today but few can claim to have identified at the time the momentous changes that are now mainstays of the evolving data and analytics landscape.

For Further Reading:

Enabling Citizen Data Analysts in the Post-Hadoop World

The Path to Pervasive Intelligence: 2021 Predictions

Executive Q&A: The Value of Improved Data Management

That the shift from traditional on-premises business intelligence and data warehouses to today’s distributed architecture and data clouds seems obvious now is testament to the spirit of innovation that drives all businesses and industries.

Predicting the Future is Fraught with Danger

It’s exciting to be a part of that evolution, but predicting the future is always fraught with danger. The things we believe will play out might never materialize or prognostications might be influenced by wishful thinking. That said, looking to the coming year there appears to be consensus among industry experts and insiders that data and analytics will play an increasingly vital role in the business and operational strategies of organizations of every type and size.

Forrester believes “46 [percent] of data and analytics business and technology decision-makers [will] seek out partners to implement AI critical to the business” in all areas of their businesses. Gartner says that “data and analytics (D&A) leaders are increasingly central to business strategy,” predicting that chief data officers who are able to deliver on the promise of data analytics “will significantly outperform their peers in driving cross-functional collaboration and value creation.” Reading between the lines, it sounds to me like both firms see citizen analytics gaining steam in the coming year.

Starting from that foundation, I will weigh in on what I see transpiring in our industry this year. Based on ongoing conversations Kyligence is engaged in with our customers, partners, prospects, and influencers in our industry, as well as our own experiences, here are three trends that support the rise of citizen analytics.

Trend #1: Return on investment will be the most important metric

Today’s AI-assisted analytics come with a great deal of potential -- and some overly optimistic hype that will be difficult to achieve -- but data and analytics will be a focus of IT transformation for organizations that believe faster, more accurate business intelligence will make them more competitive. However, in 2023 those investments will be made in an environment of economic uncertainty. Every dollar spent in the coming year must be justified, so budget proposals will be scrutinized more closely than in recent years. Therefore, investments in citizen analytics will be accompanied by analyses that show how those systems and programs will deliver a return on investment (ROI) or risk being denied as gaudy luxuries.

It will be easier for organizations that have already started down the analytics path to emphasize production rather than proof-of-concept. They’ll be able to justify new spending as a continuation of initiatives that have already been approved, but only if they are able to draw on their experiences and demonstrate current and projected value of new investments. By demonstrating that faster, more accurate business intelligence is an attainable goal for their citizen analysts, and that near-term ROI is in reach, those initiatives should be able to continue. That is why quantifiable ROI will be the number one metric for enterprises considering the adoption of analytics products, platforms, or services.

Trend #2: Key performance indicators will be back in vogue

As with ROI, a refocus on more efficient IT and data operations and quantifiable outcomes means that enterprise management will, by necessity, become more refined in the coming year. The use of objectives and key results (OKRs) that is predominant today will give way to a return of key performance indicators (KPIs) that provide a more specific scale for measuring progress and results.

By translating the goals and expectations of an organization’s data and analytics programs to measurable objectives, progress can be tracked, and implementations fine-tuned based on established KPIs. OKRs won’t go away, but they will no longer be the focus of management.

Trend #3: Dashboards die

Dashboards became popular because they made it easy to use and manage all the new standalone data and analytics tools and platforms that came online over the last few years. It was easier to get citizen analysts on board with a product that came with an intuitive UI and dashboards were a major selling point. However, for business intelligence and data engineers more familiar with the back end of the data pipeline, the technical debt generated by dashboards meant headaches associated with poor performance as friction built over time. The dirty secret about dashboards has always been that they perpetuate the inefficiency of data silos.

What has long been needed -- and what we will see in 2023 -- is the advent of a new architecture and concepts such as the metrics store that support the efficient use of data across the enterprise. Organizations are already enthusiastically adopting public cloud applications and services that demand a unified approach to data usage. Continued reliance on business intelligence dashboards runs counter to the goals of a unified architecture and can only impede their operations. BI dashboards will begin to die off this year. We can only hope that death will be a quick one.

Come December, You’re Buying the Coffee

Although there is always a risk that in 12 months we will look back and laugh at some forecasts that were well off the mark or kick ourselves for the things we never saw coming, on this day we are filled with confidence in our abilities as data operations and analytics seers. Citizen analytics is on the rise, and to maximize its value to the enterprise will require a clear path to ROI, a return to KPIs, and the death of the dashboard.

Save this article. In December we can compare notes over a cup of coffee and the person with the least-accurate predictions buys. I’ll be sure to thank you for covering my tab.

About the Author

Luke Han is co-founder and CEO at Kyligence, a leading metrics store provider. He is also the co-founder and Project Management Committee member for Apache Kylin. Prior to Kyligence, Han was the big data product lead at eBay and chief consultant at Actuate China. You can contact the author on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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