How data centres enable Business Intelligence

By Dale Green, associate marketing director at Digital Realty.

Business Intelligence (BI) is an umbrella term, used to describe the tools and systems which inform and guide strategy within organisations.
The number one issue for ensuring useful BI is the ability to gather, store and crunch data. Previously this meant generating reports and then interpreting the data. However, with no central repository, this often led to data siloes. What’s more, any reports usually needed to be run by the IT team, which would often slow down the process.
New era of intelligence
These days, with the growth of data and accompanying data analysis tools, BI has been redefined. It’s now possible for BI to be real-time insight, drawn from sources such as data warehouses. Of course, the data has to be cleaned first. But here’s the thing: BI doesn’t solve an organisation’s problems. It simply provides the tools for you to take action. The data centre has a pivotal role in enabling these tools. Here’s why.
A Gartner BI and analytics report highlighted how the “shift from IT-led enterprise reporting to business-led self-service analytics has passed the tipping point”. Users from across the business want to have real-time BI. Findings from the BI Trend Monitor 2016 support this, and explore the growth in departmental “power users”.
In theory this relieves the pressure on IT to deliver the reporting. However, this “data democratisation” throws up new issues. Perhaps most importantly, around governance. For example, there needs to be clear guidelines on which departments should have access to the data, and at what level.
Other insights from the report reveal ‘data discovery/visualisation, data quality/master data management and self-service’ are the most important trends in BI practitioners’ work. This change has generated big opportunities for technology vendors.
Visualising data
It’s one thing to have access to big data and be able to crunch it.
However, communicating the findings to a non-data audience of stakeholders is always a challenge. That’s why visualisation tools are in high demand. Between 2014 and 2022, analysts predict the Global Data Visualisations Applications Market will grow at a Compound Annual Growth (CAGR) rate of 8.7%.
Predictive Analytics
Business Intelligence can inform what happened in the past. Combine this with predictive analytics, and businesses can tap into the future, for 360-degree strategic insight.
BI in the year 2020
The growth of data has clearly made BI more effective and powerful. However, for this to continue, new models are needed. This puts more of an emphasis on Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM). As shown in the recent DigitalCentre2020 report ‘How will the data centre evolve by 2020 and beyond’, DCIM is a key part of infrastructure.
Another driver is the cloud. “Always on” connectivity via mobile devices means users want access to BI when on the move. This places new demands on data centre infrastructure and networks.
The solutions are out there, for example software defined networks, and content delivery networks. However, many data centres currently lack the infrastructure to accommodate these technologies. By the year 2020, this has to change.
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