At Gartner’s Data & Analytics Summit this year, Gartner combined both the data integration and business intelligence audiences, which resulted in an outstanding network of attendees (2500+). The number of vendors exceeded 100, ranging from traditional BI tools to data science specialists to more. It’s a clear sign that business analytics isn’t just analytics anymore, and that data has become a top strategic initiative
For those who were unable to attend, I wanted to share the key themes that were resonating throughout the conference— both at Pentaho’s booth and in sessions presented by Gartner’s senior researchers:
- Abundant Access to Data in Every Role
This year’s opening keynote and a majority of sessions focused on empowering everyone throughout the business with data to drive actual decisions. At first glance, this might look seem similar to themes we have heard in previous years, but the key points here are: 1) everyone and 2) actual decisions.
Gone are the days where business analysts and IT hold the key to business analytics. In order to be successful, we need to move from data and analytics scarcity to an abundance of insight. This means that regardless of whether the word “analyst” sits in front of your title, and regardless of where you sit in an organization, you should have access to data to drive your business decisions. In fact, information consumers will be turned into information producers. Ivy Tech, a Pentaho customer who won Gartner’s Best Self-Service Analytics Award was featured in the keynote presentation for creating 3,000 information producers in just 3 months with a strong leadership team. 
This brings us to the second part of this: actual decisions. Admittedly, the end goal of business analytics has been to drive organizational change by enabling the business with the right data, but what we have seen in the past has not been nearly as impactful as Gartner foresees happening in the next several years. Analytic insights need to be made available to every single person in an organization in order to actually drive business results. In fact, IT should be looking to manage, not control, self-service analytics, which in turn, will enable a culture of data curiosity to drive business action and innovation.
- The CDO-Led, Data-Driven Digital Business
“By 2019, 90% of large organizations worldwide will have hired a CDO.” The Chief Data Officer (CDO) will have executive-level visibility to lead a data-driven culture including such initiatives as data quality, information strategy, master data management, data science, etc. A majority of CDOs will report to the CEO or COO, proving the value of data at an executive level and as a core driver of organizational decision-making.
Supporting the CDO will be the Office of the CDO. Shifting from a centralized organization model, the Office of the CDO will be distributed staff throughout the organization, since analytics will be proliferated in all departments. This office of the CDO will be responsible for managing information as an asset, delivering insights to the business to improve decision-making, and generating incremental business value. This shift to a digital business means changing and emerging roles, including the “citizen data engineer,” “citizen analyst,” “citizen data scientist,” and “citizen steward.” Data architectures and technology will be the framework to enabling these objectives, such as Pentaho, which can enable big data integration which can alleviate the need for specialized skill sets.
- A Shift to Smarter Analytics: Advanced Analytics, Machine Learning, IoT
With a shift to the digital business, data and analytics intelligence will sit at the core of customers, ecosystems, things, and IT systems. Using advanced analytics and machine learning, the extraction of knowledge from data to solve problems, alongside today’s analytics tools will enable smarter analytics and decisions with less bias as we look to find answers on the masses of data that are being collected. These analytics will need to be embedded, so that decisions are driven within context.
In addition, the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) will drive innovation across industries. Endpoints of the IoT will grow at a 33% CAGR from 2015 through 2020, reaching an installed base of 20.4 billion units.  These sensors will be leveraged to drive profitability in many industries, particularly manufacturing, healthcare, and insurance.
It seems as though every year we hear that the data and analytics market is shifting. This year, we heard it again but at a much more impactful scale— showing the relative importance of data to organizational development. Organizations needs to brace themselves for a major change in the next several years. So prepare yourselves to enable an abundance of data, a data-driven organizational culture, and smarter analytics!
 Press Release “Gartner Announces Winners of the Gartner Data & Analytics Excellence Awards", February 1, 2017. http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3591318
 “Survey Analysis: Second Gartner CDO Survey —The State of the Office of the CDO", October 13, 2016. https://www.gartner.com/document/3471546
 “Forecast Analysis: Internet of Things — Endpoints, Worldwide, 2016 Update", February 10, 2017. https://www.gartner.com/document/3597469