Analytics 2020: What will Data Analytics look like in a decade?

When I first thought about the future of data analytics, I started researching to find out what industry experts have to say.  But if experts are thinking about the long-term future, they aren’t talking.

Though there was discussion around the future of Business Intelligence (BI) for a while, there hasn’t been much in the past couple of years.  And many of the ideas that were still on the horizon in 2006 or 2008 are flowing into the mainstream now:  integration of BI with social networking, BI on mobile devices, BI in the cloud, BI for petabytes of data, collaborative BI, business-driven BI, and so on.  The laggard is BI for unstructured data, which everyone knows is important but still isn’t nearing realization.  The pursuit of unstructured data is getting plenty of attention, though, and progress will undoubtedly speed up.

So by 2020, that problem may be in the past—and the process of gathering, analyzing and utilizing business data could look very different than it does today.  For example:

  • There might not be a separate analytics process.  BA may be seamlessly integrated into a single enterprise-wide information management system that extracts and organizes business intelligence in the background, with relatively little human involvement.
  • Or everyone could be an analyst.  Users might be able to ask natural language questions in real time and (presto) get back data that’s intuitively pre-organized, accessible from any platform, and effortlessly actionable.
  • On the other hand . . . there could be a complete reversal of the current direction.  Instead of giving end users more direct access to data and easy-to-use BI tools, the next great thing may be a return to the past, with mainframe-like supercomputers whirring away at massive amounts of data and rooms full of dedicated data-wranglers to manifest results in super-customized formats.

There are undoubtedly many more possibilities, but one thing seems certain:  The information landscape of 2020 will be quite a change from the one we see today.  (For some related ideas, check out this interview with Seth Grimes on new tools for business analytics.)

Cynthia Giles
Spotfire Blogging Team

Image Credit: Mirosoft Office Clip Art