|Screenshot from https://www.oracle.com/solutions/business-analytics/day-by-day.html|
Companies spent most of 2017 either preparing their journey to the Cloud, getting started on moving their applications to the Cloud, or hoping the whole Cloud thing would go away if we just ignored it long enough (like my late fees at Blockbuster). But in the end, the Cloud isn’t revolutionary: the Cloud just means someone else is managing your server for you. While it’s nice that your servers are now someone else’s problem, there is an actual revolution happening in reporting & analysis and it’s a technology that’s been around for decades.
The Future of Reporting & Analysis Can Also Take Selfies
Up to this point, mobile has been an afterthought in the world of reporting & analysis: we design for a laptop first and if something ends up mobile-enabled, that’s a nice-to-have. The commonly held belief is that mobile devices (phones, tablets) are too small of a footprint to show formatted reports or intricate dashboards. That belief is correct in the same way that Microsoft Outlook is way too complex of an application to make reading emails on a mobile device practical… except that most emails in the world are now read on a mobile device. They’re just not using Outlook. We had to rethink of a smaller, faster, easier, more intuitive (sorry, Microsoft) way of consuming information to take email mobile.
Reporting & analysis will also hit that tipping point in 2018 where we ask ourselves simply “what questions do I need answered to make better business decisions faster?” and then our phones will give us exactly that without all the detail a typical report or dashboard provides. Will mobile analytics kill off desktop applications? No more than the desktop killed off paper reports. They all have their place: paper reports are good for quickly looking at a large amount of formatted information, desktops will be good for details (Excel will live on for the foreseeable future), and mobile will take its rightful place as the dominant form of information consumption.
Forget the Past and Pay Attention to the Present
The greatest thing about mobile is that everyone has their phone less than six feet from them at all times [you just glanced over at yours to see if I’m right]. But would you ever look at your phone if your screen took a month to update? Traditional reports are very backwards-looking. Your typical Income Statement, for instance, tells you how you spent the last year, it sometimes tells you about the upcoming forecast, but it rarely tells you, “am I making money at this moment?” Just like the dashboard of a car would be awfully useless if it gave you last month’s average gas tank reading – hey, I was 75% full in December! – mobile reports won’t be for looking at historically dated information. Instead, we’ll look to mobile to give us just the information we need to take physical actions now.
But Why is 2018 the Year of Mobile Analytics?
Quite simply, we didn’t have the technology to support our decisions until now. While we could take reports or dashboards and interact with them on mobile devices, we don’t want to actually perform analytics on our phones. We want the computers doing the analysis for us. While we’ve had data mining for years, it was relegated to high-priced data scientists or not-so-highly-paid analysts.
We now have artificial intelligence that can look through our data 24/7 and with no guidance from us, determine what drivers correlate with which results. Machine learning can then determine which information it delivers do we truly find useful. And so we don’t have to dig through all the results to find out what the system is trying to tell us, the mobile analytics apps in 2018 will convert complex information into natural language. It will simply tell us in plain English (or your language of choice), “I looked through all your information and here are the things you need to be aware of right now.”
While that may seem like distant promises to many people, it’s here now. At Oracle’s OpenWorld 2017 conference, there was an amazing demonstration of everything I mentioned in the last paragraph. The audience was even more amazed when told that all that functionality would be in Oracle Analytics Cloud before OpenWorld 2018. I’m sure the employees of Microsoft, Tableau, QlikView, and others are either busy working on their own technological magic or they’re busier working on their resumés.
Am I Ready for the Future?
Start finding out at EPM.BI/Survey. Each year, I conduct a global survey of Business Analytics. Last year, I asked over 250 companies how they were doing in the world of reporting, analysis, planning, and consolidation. To participate in this year’s survey, go to EPM.BI/Survey and spend 15 minutes answering questions about your State of Business Analytics that you maybe haven’t thought of in years. In exchange for filling in the survey, you’ll be invited to a webcast on January 31, 2018, at 1PM Eastern, where you’ll learn how your BI & EPM (Business Intelligence & Enterprise Performance Management) stacks up against the rest of the world.
If you have any questions, ask them in the comments or tweet them to me @ERoske.