Building skills ‘a top analytics priority’ for 2015

Putting together teams that include all the skills necessary to run a successful big data programme will be among the top priorities for business intelligence that chief information officers will be focusing on this year.

Speaking ahead of next month's Gartner Business Intelligence and Analytics Summit, which gets underway in Las Vegas on March 30th, research vice-president at the firm and conference chair Kurt Schlegel said executives need to make sure the teams they build have a good mix of technical and business skills.

This needs to be coupled with an organisational structure that is able to serve "both the centralised needs of the enterprise and the decentralised needs of local domains," he noted.

In many cases, the use of more advanced business intelligence and big data analytics tools will fundamentally transform how a company functions. But while operations where gathering data is the primary purpose of the business will remain in a minority, firms across all sectors can expect to see an increasing reliance of data analytics in the months and years to come.

"To be an insurance company, a retailer, or any company in the private and public sector delivering goods and services, will be required to be wrapped in an information context," Mr Schlegel said. "For example, that insurance company will collect more granular data than ever to personalize the insurance experience. The same will be true in all industries."

He added that making sense of this information through advanced analytics programmes will be a key aspect of how well a company competes in the digitally-focused era.

This year, the theme of Gartner's Summit will be 'Crossing the Analytical Divide'. Mr Schlegel explained this means ensuring that firms are able to achieve their vision of becoming more data-driven organisations, but without abandoning their traditional ways of operating.

In many cases, enterprises are being told they need to invest in new, innovative technology such as predictive, content, and real time analytics in order to be successful. However, the expert noted that in the majority of situations, business units still need to deliver the traditional management reports and dashboards that run the company.

"The theme, 'Crossing the Analytical Divide', is very much from the perspective of the analytics leader who needs to deliver on an innovative vision, while keeping the day to day analytic operations up and running. It's not an easy task," Mr Schlegel said.

Among the other trends for 2015 that CIOs will need to be aware of when it come to analytics is the need to develop clear, realistic plans for how they will standardise their technologies.

For example, Mr Schlegel said they must weigh up the benefits of logical data warehouses against enterprise data warehouses, data discovery as an augmentation to traditional business intelligence, and provision capabilities for the big data era.