Big data, artificial intelligence (AI), distributed cloud computing, mobile devices, and the Internet of Things inundate companies with more information than ever before in history. Companies that leverage that information intelligently have a distinct competitive advantage over those that do not.
A recent survey conducted by NewVantage Partners showed that 97.2 percent of the executives who responded are actively investing in big data and AI to fuel insights. More significantly, almost three-quarters of those respondents are seeing measurable results from their existing investments. Forrester Research estimates that insight-driven companies outperform the competition by 30 percent annually.
However, a 2020 survey from FSN: “The Future of Analytics in the Finance Function”, says that despite analytics being a core competency of the finance function, 86 percent of finance functions felt they had very little insight, with 40 percent suggesting they lack the right tools to fully exploit the data they have.
Clearly there is a gap here, and closing this gap while always important, has never been more so than now. The COVID-19 crisis has hit hard, and disruption is everywhere. Organizations that have real-time visibility into what is happening, analyze information rapidly, and act on what they learn quickly will be the ones that survive and thrive during difficult times.
A year from now, many of your competitors may no longer be in business. That stark reality presents an opportunity for you to gain new customers and capture market share, but only if you seize the opportunity and aim for strategic advantage. Solid business intelligence (BI) is an absolute necessity.
Whether you are a BI veteran or just beginning your research, it pays to understand why BI is so important, and where it is headed this year. Here are some of our predictions for BI over the second half of 2020 and beyond.
BI Becomes the Linchpin for Agility
In periods of rapid change, businesses must be responsive to rapidly changing conditions. An effective response to any given situation is predicated on having accurate, up-to-the-minute information. Many organizations are still relying on tedious, manual copy-and-paste processes to gather information from multiple systems into a single place (usually Excel) where that data can be summarized, compared, and analyzed.
Excel remains a favorite tool of most finance and accounting professionals, but the cumbersome process of moving data from external reports into Excel is painfully slow. Perhaps more importantly, it can introduce errors into the data, which, in turn, can produce incorrect results.
If business agility is the defining factor for successful outcomes in the 2020s, then when it comes to financial data, data-driven insights must be accurate, and they must reflect what’s happening in real time.
Broader Use of AI
As companies accumulate more data and as they gain visibility to a broader array of data points, they stand to improve the quality and accuracy of the insights they can derive from that information. Although large volumes of data can present challenges, advances in technology have made it easier than ever before to manage scale and complexity.
AI has become more accessible, affordable, reliable, and easier to manage. Companies can automate data-management workloads that in the past would have been unmanageable. Throughout 2020 and beyond, we will see companies rely on automation to distill large volumes of data into higher-quality insights.
Lower Barriers to Adoption for BI
Previously, only large companies with significant resources were able to realize the benefits of BI as a strategic differentiator. In the past two years, though, companies with fewer than 100 employees were adopting BI at higher rates than any other segment of the market. The technology has become far more affordable, with powerful tools now being within the reach of even very small organizations. BI tools have become more intuitive as well, and are being embraced by companies of all sizes across industries.
Greater Use of Visual Tools
BI should make insights both more accessible and more digestible. Companies increasingly rely on dashboards and similar data visualization tools to accomplish this. When reams of data can be transformed into crisp, clear visuals, decision makers can quickly and intuitively grasp the underlying realities driving the business.
Visualizations are especially well-suited to communicating key metrics to a widespread community of stakeholders. They can highlight key insights, trends, and patterns in a way that is easily accessible and digestible to a broad audience. Improving the look and feel of BI and increasing visibility to stakeholders across the organization will be a priority throughout 2020 and beyond.
For finance teams, this offers a way of transforming financial data into engaging visualizations backed by contextual commentaries. This enables you to present your data in a format that non-finance users can readily understand, engage with, and act upon.
Perhaps the most exciting BI development is that it’s becoming less dependent on the IT department and expensive outside consultants. Self-service BI enables end-users to design and modify reports or to perform ad hoc analysis on the fly. Modern tools are intuitive enough for virtually anyone to use without extensive training. Instead of waiting for reports to be completed by the IT department or acting without all the necessary data, individual users can find the information they need on demand. BI is finally available to anyone at any time, from front-line employees to C-suite executives.
For finance teams, this requires having tools that understand the nuances of financial data, to enable you to gain easy access to ERP data to easily create analytics dashboards that tell a compelling story.
What is your strategy for BI in 2020? How do you want to leverage data by the end of the year, and what will it take to get there? Having the right BI tools in place is just the first step. For data to become accessible and actionable across the entire organization, reporting capabilities are critically important. Ultimately, reporting is what turns BI into practical decision making.
insightsoftware has developed a suite of solutions purpose-built for the needs of finances team, to enable them to unlock the power of their enterprise data. Make 2020 the year that digital transformation becomes a reality in your organization. Contact us to discuss how insightsoftware can help you to achieve your goals in 2020 and request a free demo.