Top Trends in Business Intelligence for Associations for 2014

Tableau software recently compiled their set of Top Ten Business Intelligence Trends for 2014. Not all of these trends will be impacting the association space. Some of these trends are more relevant in the corporate space, but could become more relevant as more time passes and technologies are less expensive and accessible. In this blog we will review the trends compiled by Tableau as well go in depth on the trends that will directly affect you and what you should do about it.

Below is the Top Ten list as published by Tableau.

  1. The end of data scientists. Data science moves from the specialist to the everyman. Familiarity with data analysis becomes part of the skill set of ordinary business users, not experts with “analyst” in their titles.
  2. Cloud business intelligence goes mainstream. Organizations that want to get up & running fast with analytics drive adoption of cloud-based business intelligence. The maturation of cloud services helps IT departments get comfortable with business intelligence in the cloud.
  3. Big data finally goes to the sky. Cloud data warehouses like Amazon Redshift and Google BigQuery transform the process of building out a data warehouse from a months-long process to a matter of days.  This enables rapid prototyping and a level of flexibility that previously was not possible.
  4. Agile business intelligence extends its lead. Self-service analytics becomes the norm at fast-moving companies. Business people begin to expect flexibility and usability from their dashboards.
  5. Predictive analytics. Once the realm of advanced and specialized systems, will move into the mainstream as businesses seek forward-looking rather than backward-looking insight from data.
  6. Embedded BI begins to emerge, in an attempt to put insight directly in the path of business activities.  Analytics start to live inside of transactional systems.  Ultimately, embedded BI will bring data to departments that have typically lagged: for example, on the shop floor and in retail environments.
  7. Storytelling becomes a priority, as people realize that a dashboard deluge without context is not helpful. Stories become a way to communicate ideas and insights using data. They also help people gain meaning from an overwhelming mass of big and disparate data.
  8. For leading-edge organizations, mobile business intelligence becomes the primary experience, not an occasional experience. Business users begin to demand access to information within the natural flow of their day, not back at their desks.
  9. Organizations begin to analyze social data in earnest, gaining insight beyond number of their likes and followers. Social data becomes a proxy for brand awareness and attitude, as well as fertile ground for competitive analysis.  Companies begin to use social data to understand how relevant they are to their customers.
  10. NoSQL is the new Hadoop. Organizations explore how to use unstructured data. NoSQL technologies become more popular as companies seek ways to assimilate this kind of data.  But in 2014, the intelligent use of unstructured data will still be the exception and not the norm.


Of these trends, only some will impact your association in 2014.  Below we have provided you information on the relevant trends to take to your executives to make sure you can stay ahead of the Business Intelligence curve.

  1. The end of data scientists. Most associations don’t have the resources for full time data scientists. Instead associations are putting the power of data-driven decisions in the hands of staff across departments. Staff will be trained on analytical skills that can be applied to their daily routine and need for information.
  2. Cloud business intelligence goes mainstream. Cloud-based solutions help associations to more quickly and often more economically begin using business intelligence. It also puts the data in the hands of everyone and anyone with internet access. Data belongs to the association business staff and the IT staff facilitates the management of this important asset.
  3. Agile business intelligence extends its lead. In the association space, DSK incorporates key aspects of agile processes to business intelligence initiatives because it dramatically increases the probability of a successful outcome. Typically, associations do require an estimate up front for budgeting purposes, but the scope and development are best performed in an agile, iterative fashion. See our blog post from last year about Agile Business Intelligence.
  4. Storytelling becomes a priority. We often believe data is a flat object, but viewed in context it has the power to tell a story about what is really happening.  We believe that through data discovery, association staff can learn to understand the story their data is telling. And once the story is understood the story, you have the power to can change the ending! Through the use of interactive data visualizations, your data can be analyzed in ways not thought of previously. 

Can you see your association following these business intelligence trends in 2014?