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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

BI-Related Changes You Should Make This Year

Remote workforces in 2021 will require more efficient metadata management and access.

During the past five years business intelligence (BI) has gradually transformed, marking 2020 as a year that solidified the need for automated metadata management. There are two major changes that have been occurring slowly that peaked this year -- the types of users accessing data and the number of systems that house data has skyrocketed.

For Further Reading:

Modern Metadata Management

How Modern Metadata Management Can Boost BI Productivity

Machine Learning that Automates Data Management Tasks and Processes 

In the past, there was a small percentage of BI users across a company and it was sometimes even limited to business intelligence analysts. However, as companies began to rely more on data to make major corporate decisions, the number of BI users has grown exponentially. Additionally, the number of systems that house this data has grown as well.

As a result, manually overseeing and analyzing metadata across an organization with data that is housed in multiple systems simply became impossible. It's the equivalent of going to the library for hours to do research when you can just run a search on Google and get the information in minutes. Manual data management became an impossibility and the need for automation became very clear.

In addition, during 2020 the world was hit with COVID-19, causing many businesses to close down in-person operations. Suddenly, businesses not only realized the limitations of manual data management but they also needed to pivot to be able to allow their BI teams to collaborate because they were no longer on premises. Many operations which previously had all employees working within the same office now had hundreds if not thousands of employees working from home.

As interpersonal communication became more difficult because information regarding data processes was not being shared at in-person meetings, companies became acutely aware that they needed to simplify data management so employees could quickly and efficiently get visibility of their entire BI landscape wherever they were based.

Now, BI teams need to quickly find data, fix errors, and meet compliance requirements more than ever before. With that need it became clear that the creation of a tool that allows data visibility on the cloud for collaborative BI work must be a key priority for businesses. Simplifying means moving to the cloud and utilizing cloud-based apps that are familiar for any employee who regularly uses apps on their phone.

Two Critical BI Capabilities for 2021

In 2021, BI and analytics teams must focus on two critical capabilities: updating to automated metadata management and migrating to cloud-based business intelligence. These two components will create a system that allows employees to easily access data, no matter where they are, and provide a business intelligence infrastructure that will accommodate the changing business intelligence environment.

Automated metadata management is essentially creating a Google-like search and discovery system within an organization that enables users to track the source of any piece of data in just moments as well as find the root causes of any reporting errors by tracing data back to its origin. Manual business intelligence is no longer a possibility given the number of users who need data, the amount of data that corporations have access to, and current regulations that require companies to have tight control over and accountability for data.

Implementing an automated system is the only way forward for corporations to manage their data, where business decisions can be made in a fast-paced environment. This will especially ring true for companies serving the financial, healthcare, and insurance industries where data privacy is integral.

Cloud-based apps enable BI teams to locate metadata wherever they are and provide a format to access and track metadata that is familiar to the average mobile user. Business intelligence has to be simple for the mainstream user since the BI and analytics teams are no longer the only ones accessing data -- currently, a growing number of employees within an organization need to have access, so the interface needs to be easy for anyone to use. Cloud-based tools for automated data management are the most effective way to help users easily find and understand their data so they can make timely, accurate business decisions.

Final Thoughts

At a time when the number of BI users in corporations is growing and the number of systems that house the data is enormous, simplifying and automating the business intelligence process is a high priority. If it comes down to making a decision within seconds or within several months, which would you prefer?

About the Author

Amnon Drori is the co-founder and chief executive officer at Octopai, a company that automates cross-platform metadata management. You can reach the author via email, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

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