Why there’s never been a bigger opportunity in BI than today

There’s more data available to organizations than ever before. Infrastructure costs are lower than ever before, making it the cheapest it’s ever been to capture and report on mountains of data.

But for all the talk of pervasiveness, for all the talk of every organizations being data driven, that hasn’t really occurred yet.

Right now, BI is a $17 billion global industry, which is nothing to sneeze at. But we’re not even scratching the surface of how big BI could eventually become. It’s completely feasible that the industry could grow by 10x, to $170+ billion, over the next five to ten years.


There are so many data laggards

Every organization must have analytics. You shouldn’t be in business if you’re not measuring your business. Even so, it is only recently that early-adopting companies have begun to realize that data permeates every part of their business.

These types of organizations work data and treat it like an asset. They interrogate the value they can get from the data that they have, the data they can buy, and the impact both will have across their business.

But at the same time there are still so many businesses that are run though spreadsheets. From your local pie shop all the way through to large banks, there’s a huge number of organisations and divisions that don’t value rigorous data and analytics. We all know these businesses exist. We see them and speak to them daily. Ultimately, these data laggards are the reason I’m so convinced of the scale of the BI opportunity.

It’s still early days

It’s only day one for the industry and the real opportunities are only just becoming apparent.

BI is still a niche industry: the most popular brand only has 4% business recognition. Realistically in a mature industry that figure should be 40-50%. That’s at least 10x growth.

Every now and then we have a customer or a partner that is phenomenal in terms of their vision and leadership in what they are trying to achieve with analytics. So for example they might have turned themselves from being a transactional software company into a data business, and their revenue from data is exceeding their revenue from their traditional markets. Or they are driving new products because of the understanding that they have through data, and generating 20 or 30 or 40% ROI.

When you think about those organisations and what they achieve, and you extrapolate that out, it’s easy to see a dramatically bigger BI industry.

What’s holding us back? The skills shortage

The one thing really holding the BI industry back right now is skills.

Right now there are just not enough people with the right skillset to grow the BI industry to its full potential. This is changing as we see more universities, and even some secondary schools, provide courses in analytics, but right now demand is outstripping supply.

What some people don’t realize is the skillset is not just number crunching. It’s creativity. The industry needs the ability to not just produce the right data but to think about what can be done with that data.

We as an industry need to figure out how to attract creative people into analytics. We need the people who can not only produce the right outputs from enormous pools of data, but who can also figure out how to present curated content in such a way as to encourage user adoption.

Business users want to be engaged, they want to use applications that deliver the insights they need to do their job. It’s an absolute no-brainer that people will use data that is helpful and presented to them in a way that is enjoyable and actionable.

The reality about analytics is that for people to use it, it’s got to be personalized.  Productionized but highly personalized is how I put it.

For many business users, their frustration and lack of adoption stems from analytics that have not been personalized to their needs right now. If they don’t see immediate returns for their efforts, they will not use it.

So many organizations that have not yet realized how BI can and will fundamentally change their business. This means that we have barely scraped the surface of this industry.

There’s never been a more exciting time to be in this space.