In 2012, D.J. Patil and Thomas Davenport famously stated that being a “data scientist is the sexiest job of the 21st century.” Four years ago, that may have seemed like hyperbole. Today, it’s a readily accepted fact. Okay, maybe not the sexiest, but it’s definitely up there.

Big data has provided businesses and other organizations with data the depth and breadth of which was unimaginable just a few years ago, and the know-how to put that data to work is extremely marketable. Business intelligence solutions have evolved from an enterprise-level only concept shrouded in mystery into a must-have resource in large and small organizations alike.

That said, BI is still evolving, and 2016 brings us some of its most exciting and intriguing trends yet. Here’s a breakdown of 15 of the hottest:

 1. Mobile BI

Mobile BI certainly isn’t a brand new phenomenon, but it’s only recently that it’s become one of the most valuable business intelligence tools in your BI arsenal. Mobile BI apps are crucial for an increasingly mobile workforce. It’s not just that office employees are working remotely more often, it’s that so many organizations have broken free of the entire office concept. Our offices are in the palm of our hands now.

 2. Fully Functional, Multi-Platform BI

Yes, BI has gone mobile, but that’s not all. Increasing numbers of vendors are making sure that their BI software works and syncs cross-platform. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) has become policy at even at the enterprise level, which means a really successful vendor needs to cater to the notion that employees will be using their software on their iOS devices, Android devices, Macs, and PCs.

 3. More and Better Visualization

More data and more business intelligence means that our methods for communicating it are becoming more important. Experts, researchers, and your colleagues around the meeting table agree: visualizing data is more compelling than lists of figures.

 4. Self-Service Analytics

Data is meaningless without analysis, and today’s BI solutions have helped to make analysis possible in-house. Of course, there’s value in dealing with experts as well, but basic data analysis has never been more accessible.

 5. BI for Small Businesses

That accessibility isn’t limited to midsized or large businesses, either. Small businesses, even solo entrepreneurs, can now find BI tools and solutions that can help them grow and improve.

 6. Governance isn’t the Enemy

Data governance has long been the bane of analysts that have had to butt heads with IT and legal departments. However, with the growth of data-driven business, both security and centralization have improved immensely—which means data governance is an ally now.

 7. Focus on Data Integration

Remember when all of your data was on one system? And that system was great for some things, and awful for others? We’re waving goodbye to that world and ushering in an era of incredibly improved integration. Get ready for apps that work together. Vendors are even bragging about apps integrating with competitors. It appears, at least for now, that there are more than enough applications of BI to go around.

 8. Cloud-Based BI

Well, cloud-based everything. That was pretty much the theme of 2015, but BI and data collection were a bit slower to join the cloud revolution. As security improves and cloud-based services evolve, business intelligence is finally succumbing to the lure of the cloud.

 9. Knowledge Networks are Exploding

Some industries and organizations lend themselves naturally to the development of knowledge networks; some do not. BI and its increased accessibility, however, have made it necessary for many organizations to overhaul (or even develop for the first time!) knowledge networks.

 10. The IoT

With better tools for analysis comes the desire for more data, and the Internet of Things is right on time to comply. With increasing numbers of gadgets and appliances online, you can expect to see this data becoming important for business intelligence.

 11. Race for New Tech

This one should go without saying—BI is hot, which means that innovators are racing to unveil new applications for it and new ways to harness it.

 12. Data Ethics, Usage Rights, and Flow

More data and more sophisticated analysis is raising questions related to usage rights, the ethics of data collection, and so forth. Who owns the data collected by your smart house hub, for example? You? The company that runs the network it connects to?

 13. The Push for Predictive Analytics

Analysis is getting better and better, and while predictive analytics aren’t new, the expectations associated with them are rising. Developers are most definitely feeling the pressure—and acknowledging the opportunities it presents.

 14. BI and Risk Based-Security

Risk-based security is here to stay, and BI analytics are playing a very big role in its success. Complete, locked down security is becoming a castle in the sky, which means that assessing risks and basing security measures on those risks is the way to go.

 15. Real-Time Analytics

Real-time analytics isn’t going to be a reality for many industries just yet, but we’re getting closer. We’re going to see vendors and developers heralding every step in that direction.

If you’re looking for the right BI solutions to get in on these hot trends or for any other reason, comparing vendors with third-party guides is a great way to reduce confusion and show you in plain terms what different software has to offer. Check out BI Buyer’s Guide to get all the help you need during the purchase process.

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