gartner bi summitLast week, I attended the Gartner BI Summit in Dallas. The Gartner BI Summit is one of the largest business intelligence conferences, and there was no shortage of sessions and new ideas. According to Gartner analysts Rita Sallam and Frank Buytendijk in their keynote, analytics is still the #1 technology investment area in 2016, and there are lots of exciting things happening in the industry.

Tweet: 3 takeaways from the Gartner BI Summit

I have pages full of stats and trends that I jotted down – here I boiled it down to 3 main takeaways from the show.

1. Now that companies have BI, the struggle is how to link it to outcomes

According to Sallam and Buytendijk, only 15% of business intelligence projects have business metrics stated and are linked to outcomes. And most of these metrics are inward focused, not outward focused. The analysts discussed the need to move beyond simply dashboards and reports in business intelligence, and instead focus on outcomes. And unfortunately, that’s a really hard mind shift for most companies.

This observation mirrors what we’re seeing elsewhere. Take for example, this year’s KLAS performance report on healthcare business intelligence and analytics, titled “The Search for Outcomes.” In healthcare, those providers who are really harnessing analytics are moving away from simply BI reporting and moving towards gaining deeper insights to improve outcomes and quality. According to the Gartner analysts, organizations must anchor their analytics efforts in business outcomes in order to be successful, and make analytics strategic and core to their businesses.

2. Data governance is still a huge challenge

I’ve heard this stat before, but it’s still stunning: according to Gartner, through 2016, less than 10% of self-service BI initiatives will be governed sufficiently to prevent inconsistencies that adversely affect the business. This stat points to the great difficulties businesses face in trying to provide self-service capabilities to BI users while still governing the data.

I sat in on a session by Gartner analyst Thomas Oestreich, in which he discussed how businesses can be successful with analytics governance. Oestreich compared governance to sports, saying everyone must “play by the rules”. He said rules enable us to play the game and let us know what is expected and what is fair play. Oestreich’s key topics for these “rules of the game”:

  1. Clarify ownership, responsibility and accountability for data and analytics.
  2. Identify how to measure success, the impact of analytics, KPI framework, and alignment with business objectives.
  3. Establish criteria for investment decisions and prioritization of analytic projects.
  4. Develop ethical standards and a code of conduct for analytics.
  5. Appoint governance stewards within the organization.

3. Companies that are able to figure out analytics will reap big rewards

I sat in on a couple of case study presentations at the conference. End user presentations are always my favorites, as they cut through the talk and instead discuss how organizations are actually using technology today. (And getting good results!)

One presentation I sat in on was called, “Big Data Analytics: Bringing ‘Dark Data’ to Light for Discovery in Traumatic Brain Injury and Spinal Cord Injury.” In this session, Dr. Adam Ferguson of the University of California, San Francisco, discussed how his research team was able to use analytics to gain tremendous insights into spinal cord injuries.

According to Ferguson, 85% of data in biomedical research is currently not published, meaning there is about $200 billion of knowledge that’s just sitting in file drawers. His team was able to analyze 60 million data points from raw data sources to learn that the most significant factor in recovering from spinal cord injury was not the drugs that patients were taking, but rather was their mean arterial pressure at the time of their injury. Because of that information, researchers are now pursuing blood pressure reduction very aggressively.

Interesting stats from the Gartner BI Summit

Gartner is widely known for making a lot of forward-looking predictions, and there were a bunch of them at this conference. Among the more interesting ones that I jotted down:

  • By 2020, 20% of all business content will be generated by algorithms.
  • By 2018, more than 3 million workers globally will be managed by a “robo-boss”.
  • 65% of elementary school kids will be employed in jobs that don’t exist today.

The bottom line

The overall message that I took away from the Gartner BI Summit is that many organizations now have business intelligence systems in place, but what now? Reporting or slick visuals are simply not enough. It’s important that business intelligence implementations are tied to goals and outcomes, and also important that organizations can be sure that the data is trusted and users are looking at it in the right way. This is a challenge we help our customers with each and every day, and we have some new developments this year that we’re looking forward to announcing that will even further help our customers trust their data and tie BI to outcomes.

Kathy Sucich
Follow me