Business analytics remains top driver of BI growth

Chief information officers are gravitating toward business intelligence (BI) and analysis tools, and for good reason. The benefits of the technology have been both significant and wide ranging, from cutting costs and improving risk management to fraud prevention.

Those advantages have propelled analytics and BI to become the top-cited CIO priority for 2013, according to a recent Gartner study, and it appears that financial leaders are beginning to follow suit

"That ability to measure the performance of past … projects can set the conditions for investment in the future, and without that, skepticism starts to rise up about whether these projects are really worthwhile," CFO Research editorial director Celina Rogers said recently, according to TechTarget. 

A joint study by CFO Research and AlixPartner revealed that the majority of finance executives were unsatisfied with their companies' ability to project whether their IT projects would produce a return on investment. 

As competition continues to rise across every industry, forecasting will be an extremely valuable capability. Although many organizations are struggling with this component, AlixPartner managing director Bruce Myers suggested that it isn't for a lack of available data. 

"I promise you, 99 percent of the time the information is there, [but] pulling that information together into a data warehouse oftentimes requires making things consistent," he told TechTarget. "But once you have all the data you need in that box, then you can easily answer all these questions."

Developing analysis strategies
If financial executives and CFOs aren't happy with their predictive analytics, that likely means they haven't figured out how to optimize their BI strategies.

At the very least, interest in data analysis appears to be extremely high. A separate Gartner study found that worldwide BI sector will grow another 7 percent in 2013 compared to 2012, as organizations attempt to analyze the data being produced by recent technological innovations. 

In particular, Gartner research vice president Kurt Schlegel stressed that diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive analytics are set to take off, as every company has certain financial-related goals they  want to achieve. Myers told TechTarget that, when developing a BI plan, decision-makers should begin by agreeing on which questions they need to answer. That way, it will be easier to integrate the right information and datasets into their BI solutions. 

At the same time, he suggested that companies target specific goals rather than using analysis tools to solve only large-scale problems. 

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