Democratise BI to make most of analytics

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According to research by business intelligence firm Microstrategy, 94%of global enterprises say data and analytics are important to business growth and digital transformation, yet only 14% of these organisations report that at least three-quarters of the entire organisation has access to this business intelligence. 

The 2020 Global State of Enterprise Analytics report surveyed 500 business intelligence and analytics professionals from Brazil, the UK, Japan, the United States and Germany in Q2 2019.

Microstrategy’s solution management senior director, Roxane Edjlali, says although self-service tools have made access to analytics easier, business intelligence has not been democratised, negatively affecting business decisions. Edjlali was speaking at ITWeb’s recent Business Intelligence 2021 Summit.

“The problem lies in getting analytics in the hands of business users whose jobs need the information directly,” she said. "But before an organisation becomes data-driven, it needs to ensure data literacy among employees." 

Microstrategy’s Sub-Saharan Africa head of enterprise sales, Nkuli Mbundu said, “Earlier, one speaker mentioned getting into a teaching culture. Organisations need to invest in data literacy, but the tech also has to become easier to consume. For example, our HyperIntelligence cards enable visual representations of data, making it easier to utilise the data.” 

The cards form part of Microstrategy’s Workstation platform. The browser-extension gathers information from enterprise data sources and delivers real-time insights as lists, matrix grids or text.

Local challenges

Giving local context, Mbundu highlighted some South African constraints (regulation, ROI), challenges (technology, expertise, culture) and opportunities (monetisation, cloud) to data and analytics democratisation.

“Cloud is becoming the preferred choice for deploying data and analytics because it provides agility. With the likes of AWS building local data centres, we’re seeing a change in consumption. Some might still want a hybrid approach but with the advent of remote work, users should be able to consume data from anywhere. This shift to WFH is spurring the adoption of cloud analytics.”

Unfortunately businesses don’t know how to quantify the value of getting the right data at the right time, he said.  “The biggest divide in this year’s survey comes from the request to rank the departments that take the most advantage of the organisation’s analytics capabilities in order: IT comes in first (44%), sales is second (10%) and product development third (9%)."

It’s the same in our market, said Mbundu. "Analytics are still very departmental. They generally ‘belong’ to executives and management teams who can then share the information.”

Barriers to adoption

The biggest barrier to data and analytics (D&A)  democratisation is the concern about data privacy and security (43%).  “We have too many regulatory constraints," said Edjlali. "Organisations have their own constraints but many are still resisting having their own governance model in place, it’s seen as restricting access to data.”

But not all users need the same level of governance, they need adaptive governance models to balance trust and flexibility, she added. 

Will you invest more orless in D&A?

Mbundu and Edjlali proposed the following ways to create data-driven organisations:

  • Solve the last mile problem: D&A can be democratised by ensuring users have access to data as needed.
  • Have your cake and eat it when it comes to governanance: Adaptive governance allows flexible administration that supports organisational needs.
  • Modernise D&A with cloud but avoid lock-in; consider openness when selecting a combination of vendors to compliment your landscape.

    “In the past year, it’s become increasingly important to be flexible,turning services on and off as needed,” said Mbundu.
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