Presented by IBM Cognos Analytics

Organizations all over the world are changing and evolving at a lightning pace to take advantage of new technologies as they become available. One area that is particularly dynamic right now is Business Intelligence, or BI. You might be used to consuming BI data in the form of weekly or monthly metrics that IT or your data scientists deliver to you. However, modern BI and Analytics allows you to become much more than just a data consumer.

That brings us to our first trend.

1. Self-service BI

What if you could delve into your data yourself — no data science degree required? The technology behind self-service BI is geared toward the business user with no special knowledge of data science or databases. A modern BI and analytics tool should allow business users to:

  • Connect to their own data sources, like spreadsheets
  • Create sophisticated dashboards and stunning data visualizations that can be shared out easily among teams
  • Employ an intelligent assistant to ask questions and receive answers in plain language
  • Find the insights hidden in their data so they can take action quickly to course-correct or augment business strategies

Self-service BI and analytics put the power in the hands of data consumers and should, of necessity, maintain proper security and governance.

2. Data storytelling

Create dynamic stories out of your data with storytelling. This trend is catching on quickly, because storytelling gives you the ability to share out your data findings in an interactive smart file. Say farewell to static charts pasted onto presentation slides — the new standard is shareable data stories. Some tools let you upload a logo as well as select color schemes that reflect your company’s branding.

3. Making analytics actionable

Staring at spreadsheets and presentations and trying to divine actions you can take to move the needle can seem a little like looking into a crystal ball. It can be hard to know what to do to create actionable steps to course-correct when your metrics are doing things you don’t particularly understand and equally hard to take proactive action to take advantage of trends.

That’s why a major BI trend is providing the data you need to make informed choices about your business more quickly than you can glean them from static reports alone. We’ve discussed data storytelling, but beyond and behind that storytelling should be a world of actionable insights. You should be able to see at a glance what your data is telling you to do (or not do).

Modern BI and analytics tools should present data in new ways using augmented intelligence, recommending new ways to join data to discover the insights you need in actionable formats. In addition, tools should suggest new data visualizations that shed light on your most pressing business concerns — as well as insight into data that you didn’t know you needed to know.

And that brings us to the fourth trend.

4. Natural Language Processing and Natural Language Generation

Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Natural Language Generation (NLG) work in concert to allow users to ask questions about their data and receive answers in plain language. This capability blows away the barrier to entry for business users, allowing almost anyone to access and take action on vital data insights.

The way it works is deceptively simple. Rather than typing in a search string, you simply ask questions. You could ask “Why are sales down in the Northeast region?” and be presented with visualizations and textual explanations that offer an easily discernible answer. Now you can take that information and do something about it, all without knowing a lick of data science.

The power behind NLP and NLG is AI. AI provides the smarts to take plain language and convert it to queries, and then to take the results they find and present it in an understandable manner.

5. Enterprise-wide adoption of advanced analytics

Can you imagine how proactive and productive your teams could be if they all received weekly or even daily dashboards that describe the challenges and possible solutions they’re experiencing? Adopting advanced analytics on a large scale not only promotes ownership of the data, but also the capability to act upon it.

When you enable your teams to drill down into their own data dashboards, you give them the power to affect real change. Instead of information consumers, employees become information powerhouses capable of both understanding their own data drivers and acting upon them quickly.

In order to foster enterprise-wide adoption, BI tools need to:

  • Have a low barrier to entry so they are easy to use
  • Provide flexible licensing that ensures everyone has a seat at the table
  • Equip users with the tools they need to take action immediately, without wading through reams of spreadsheets

In conclusion, today’s modern BI tools, like IBM Cognos Analytics, provide a clear path to adoption through radical ease of use. They create a work environment where not only is everyone accountable, they’re also capable of making adjustments in near real-time to achieve goals and targets.

Letha Wicker is the Content Marketing Manager for IBM Cognos Analytics.

Find out what Cognos Analytics can do for your business at

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