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Intelligence is central to all digital businesses

Intelligence is at the core of all digital businesses, meaning that IT and business leaders are continuing to make analytics and business intelligence (BI) their top innovation investment priority.

[SIDEBAR]This 'hype cycle' or representation of the stages that new technologies go through, from conception to maturity and widespread adoption, helps data and analytics leaders make the transition to augmented analytics, to build a digital culture and operationalising and scaling analytics initiatives.

"These words by Jim Hare, research vice-president at Gartner, echo what we are seeing in the BI and analytics sectors in SA," says Angela Mace, CRM and Events director at ITWeb. "We have seen businesses shift away from being 'report-driven', to being truly 'data-driven', and driving real innovation in the business."

According to Mace, although BI used to be viewed as a software solution or reporting tool that was designed to publish data on dashboards and management reports, and used to describe a particular measurement of a specific aspect of the business, this is a very limited view.

"Many years ago, BI was seen as being descriptive, which is a gross misrepresentation of its true value and potential. BI is more than just a tool that presents data in pretty pictures to decision-makers. If harnessed correctly, it can help companies of every type and size formulate strategy based on analytical results, and can bring real, actionable insights into the business."

She says today's BI tools use methods that are fundamentally different to those employed a decade ago. "Ten or 15 years ago, there wasn't nearly as much data being generated by businesses as there is today. The introduction of big data changed the game. In the past, data was produced mainly as computers were adopted and became mainstream, and later as music, movies, TV and games became digital."

Today, Mace says the picture is very different. "Not only is there a slew of devices generating data of every type, there are vast quantities of metadata being created by embedded devices, the Internet of things, and suchlike. In fact, a recent study by the IDC called Data Age 2025 predicts that worldwide data creation will swell to a whopping 163ZB by 2025, equating to 10 times the amount of data produced two years ago."

Next year's ITWeb Business Intelligence Summit, to be held from 3 to 5 March 2020, at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, is themed: 'Enabling actionable insights through data, analytics and AI', and will focus on helping delegates and their businesses gain a thorough understanding of the entire BI, analytics and AI landscape, including all the new tools and solutions available to help them harness the power of BI today, and translate their data into actionable insights.

This is why the tools of yesterday simply aren't up to the job today, explains Mace. "Where traditional BI used basic techniques to interpret data such as averages and ratios, today's tools employ analytics that harness the power of complex algorithms and statistics."

Analytics employs more complex and in-depth techniques to lessen any muddle created by the data overload we see today. "Instead of simply producing tables and graphs, analytics has the ability to give scores and even predictions, by using the present to gain insight into the future."