Investing in data analytics? Here’s what you need to know

Data analytics and business intelligence (BI) are vital to helping organisations successfully navigate the rapidly changing business landscape. Whether it’s the prolonged effects of the pandemic, economic uncertainty or new, hybrid ways of working, it’s clear organisations today need to be increasingly more agile, flexible and transformationally inclined to stay ahead of the curve.

This article looks at why investing in BI and data analytics is critical to building business resiliency now and beyond the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating digital transformation and the need for data-driven decision making and BI tools across a number of industry verticals, including health care, HR, logistics, finserv, and retail. Recent reports show the United Kingdom BI market is projected to reach a CAGR of 9.2% from 2021-2026.

But according to data from the OECD’s skills database, the UK faces significant shortages in advanced analytics and technology skills. To address this, the government has initiated an innovation strategy to the tune of £22 billion, aimed at making the UK a global hub for innovation by 2035.

Make it easy to use

For too long, business leaders have assumed that upskilling their workforce with data classes/certifications and investing in self-service tools would lead to a data-driven organisation. However, self-service BI does not close the skills gap. Not everyone has the time or interest in becoming a data analyst or even data literate. This is especially true in today’s post-COVID landscape where teams are understaffed, and people value their time differently in and outside of work.

In 2022, organisations will redefine what it means to build a culture of analytics. They will change the paradigm by bringing insights to workers in a more digestible way. They will turn to methods and solutions like embedded analytics that won’t require learning new skills or investing additional time. This is particularly important given new hybrid ways of working. Employees will need easy access to real-time data, wherever and whenever they need it to be data smart.

Data platforms that combat tool fatigue

The rise of work-from-home and the digital acceleration brought on by the pandemic has also meant the rise in remote digital collaborative tools and applications like Zoom, Slack, Teams, and Google Chat.

The downside to these tools is that they create distractions and inefficiencies. Workers jump around from software to software or are forced to use tools that don’t fit into their personal workflow. As a result, a new generation of the workforce is experiencing tool fatigue.

Therefore, investing in data/analytics solutions that add yet another tool to the mix is no longer best practice. In fact, asking users to turn to another app for information is one way to guarantee that they ignore it. Instead, companies should invest in technological solutions that make it easy to infuse analytics everywhere.

By 2022, more organisations will begin delivering insights to employees directly infused within their workflows via embedded analytics (for example, directly within Slack, Teams, etc.). In this environment, workers can make data-driven decisions without thinking twice and without any disruptions.

Critical mistakes to avoid when investing in BI/data analytics solutions

Over the past two years, data analytics has played a critical role in the way the world has adapted and responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the UK, the government and public services opened up certain datasets to the private sector in an unprecedented manner. This saw individual public services pool their datasets in other cases, allowing for more sophisticated data analysis.

With AI, BI, and data analytics, businesses can unlock decision making and generate incredible value across all industries at every level. However, this potential of unlocking the value of data analytics will remain untapped if common mistakes, like the ones below, aren’t first corrected.

  • Ignoring the power of invisible analytics: One of the biggest mistakes is to look for data only after sourcing all ideas and then blindly follow what the data says. Rather, analytics should work seamlessly alongside our natural creativity and expertise, making it invisible where one begins and the other ends.
  • Over-reliance on traditional, standalone dashboards: As mentioned earlier, this requires a deviation from our existing workflows. By infusing analytics, we can receive insights from data, front and centre, in the apps we’re using. We can then easily leverage that data quickly and more efficiently where and when we normally make our key business decisions.
  • Using spreadsheets and visually unclear data: One positive outcome of the self-service generation of BI has been the push towards data visualisation. We need to be deriving insights from data that are easily consumable, actionable, and understandable. We should no longer manually labour over time-consuming spreadsheets.
  • Shiny new data toys: Avoid choosing flashy visuals for novelty’s sake. Sometimes, bar and time-series charts are exactly what’s needed.

Who is getting it right?

Huws Gray, an independent builder merchant with more than 100 stores across the UK, is an example of a thriving business that’s investing in data analytics to accelerate digital transformation and business growth.

In 2019, Huws Gray could only analyse its large volume of data manually via spreadsheets. This was time-consuming and unscalable. The overload of data also created inconsistency in reporting.

In 2020, Huws Gray turned to the AI-driven platform offered by Sisense. This has enabled Huws Gray to visualise the data it has with clear, easy-to-understand dashboards. Sisense’s platform has also unlocked deeper financial insights for the company by keeping accurate track of inflation and product cost.

Since implementing Sisense, Huws Gray has enjoyed:

  • Time savings of up to 90%
  • Confidence in the accuracy of the data increased in basic terms by about 75%
  • Consistency increased by 100%
  • The risk of data leakage and security tightened by over 75%
  • Trend identification became 50% faster

Mike Owen Jnr, IT Director at Huws Gray, said, “The Sisense dashboards also give Huws Gray employees a quick visual guide and speeds up the process for staff to access the information they need. As we continue our expansion strategy in 2022, we’re confident Sisense’s robust, scalable platform can support us.”

Building resiliency with decision intelligence

According to Gartner Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022, the UK will see a new era of decision intelligence. It will be an era that offers a proactive, practical approach to improving organisational decision-making.

The key to effective decision intelligence is that it models each decision as a set of processes, using intelligence and analytics to inform, learn from, and refine decisions. Decision intelligence can support and enhance human decision-making and, potentially, automate it through the use of augmented analytics, simulations, and AI, Gartner notes.

Driving greater decision intelligence is the evolution of analytics beyond descriptive analytics (what happened) and predictive analytics (what will happen) to prescriptive guidance (what to do about it).

By investing in the right data analytics tools that open up prescriptive guidance, customer service reps could be notified to reach out to potentially angry customers before they even call in. Sales leaders could react immediately to dips in revenue pipeline coverage due to upstream activities, without waiting until the end of the quarter. And retail managers could optimise inventory before items sell out by combining sales data with other pertinent information like weather data, for instance.

With this, prescriptive analytics will finally evolve from telling us just where the numbers are going to helping us make smarter, more proactive business decisions. It will pave the way for an exciting era of decision intelligence.


Sisense goes beyond traditional business intelligence by providing organisations with the ability to infuse analytics everywhere, embedded in both customer and employee applications and workflows. Sisense customers are breaking through the barriers of analytics adoption by going beyond the dashboard with Sisense Fusion – the highly customisable, AI-driven analytics cloud platform that infuses intelligence at the right place and the right time, every time. More than 2,000 global companies rely on Sisense to innovate, disrupt markets and drive meaningful change in the world. Ranked as the No. 1 Business Intelligence Company in terms of customer success, Sisense has also been named one of the Forbes’ Cloud 100, The World’s Best Cloud Companies, six years in a row. Visit us at www.sisense.com and connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

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