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Qlik: An introduction to big data and business intelligence

11 Jan 2018

Article by James Belsey, presales director, Qlik ANZ

‘Big data’ and ‘Business Intelligence (BI)’ are more than just buzzwords.

They are here to stay.

Across the board, organisations can’t stop thinking about the promise of big data and BI to drive success in everything, from operations to communications.

However, confusion arises as the terms are used a lot - often interchangeably - adding complexity to tools that should be both simple and accessible.

In short, ‘big data’ refers to the generation, collection, and processing of vast amounts of data, from a wide variety of sources on a continual basis.

BI, on the other hand, is related to the software and systems that import data and generate analysis, like visualisations, to drive business decision making.

So how do the two work together, and what role do they play in the business world?

Looking past the big data hype cycle

First and foremost, big data is no longer hype – it’s reality for most organisations.

In fact, according to IDC, worldwide data will grow to 163 zetabytes (ZB) – yes zetabytes - by 2025.

This means the volume of big data will continue to grow exponentially. However, on its own, big data has no inherent value, and is instead a costly asset for a business to keep.

The real value of big data is created when businesses can pull together, combine and make their data available across their organisations in a way that encourages insight and exploration, with the ultimate goal of generating actionable business insights.

For this to occur, organisations are seeking out BI technologies as a method for harvesting big data and uncovering insights that will drive the business forward.

Using big data and BI to drive big insights

Big data is one of the pieces of effective BI, providing important data sets from which to draw and nurture value and insights.

Using big data to drive BI allows companies to fully understand and explore the topics and issues that are top of mind, providing clarity to the discussion.

In addition, BI brings with it a host of tools, including data visualisation, that drive thorough data analysis practices. For example, data visualisation; when created with the right tools, data visualisations can enhance decision-making dramatically.

This is achieved by increasing the speed of analysis, reducing the amount of time required for data preparation, and providing interactive analysis which can be used at the point of decision-making.

This provides a full picture of the data at hand and encourages businesses to explore all the options, to understand outcomes before implementing change.

Augmented intelligence – the next frontier in BI

Like many business processes, BI has recently been revolutionised by artificial intelligence (AI).

However, AI is not purely "artificial." In fact, the ideal approach to BI amplifies human intuition with machine intelligence to create a powerful multiplier effect.

When we combine machine intelligence with our own creative human intelligence to question the data and provide context, we enable true data exploration.

This has been dubbed augmented intelligence and is the next frontier in BI. Augmented intelligence allows BI users to uncover hidden insights within their data, enabling them to see the whole story.

Final thoughts…

It is vital that we understand the critical relationship between big data and BI, as without one another they are fruitless to an organisation.

We’ve heard that data is the new oil, but in a successful analysis, big data is the soil in which our insights grow.

Using BI to fertilise insights, this information can grow into a healthy garden of well-founded business decisions that will drive organisations forward.

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