For years, business intelligence (BI) has included access to reporting capabilities and improved visibility for decision-making. However, only senior financial executives and board members have so far benefitted.
I expect this year will see a radical cultural shift as BI capabilities are rolled out to all levels of the organisation, and beyond the firewall to customers and suppliers.
For example, energy and utilities companies like Scottish and Southern Energy are beginning to offer customers real-time insight into energy use through easy-access graphs and charts that facilitate detailed breakdowns of billing and consumption.
This extended use of self-service BI will have an effect on the way organisations share information.
To make the right decisions, businesses need to harness historical data and scenario planning capabilities through analytics.
Some police forces are already using analytics for crime mapping. Police in the US state of Virginia, I hear, have cut crime by 49 per cent using predictive analytics.
Officers can collect crime statistics and detail on external factors such as weather, time of day, and day of the week to help them guess the timing and location of crimes yet to be committed.
Businesses cannot afford poor quality, 'dirty' or unnecessarily duplicated data. Problems need to be identified and corrected before data enters multiple systems and departments. Data cleaning and management should help companies head off problems before suffering the operational and financial consequences.
Many businesses have seen that cleaning up data not only reduces risk and cost, but provides a competitive edge through creating a single version of what is happening.
So I think we will see a fresh approach taken to data management this year, as organisations begin to integrate siloed information and tidy error-prone data.
Peter Walker is UK country manager at Information Builders
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