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The 11 Best Analytics Posts to Guide You into 2016

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The world of analytics has seen major revolutions in 2015.

And, of course, the trends exhibited last year are the foundation of what will happen next.

This post aims to help you reflect thoughtfully on the best of the best in 2015’s analytics, big data, and business intelligence articles.

Not merely for nostalgia … but so you can hit the ground running -- informed and inspired -- in 2016.

1. Roundup Of Analytics, Big Data & Business Intelligence Forecasts And Market Estimates, 2015

Author: Louis Columbus

Publisher: Forbes 

2015 was a big year for big data, analytics and business intelligence (BI).

In this Forbes article, Louis Columbus rounds up the major statistics surrounding these three areas and also gives forecasts on how the market is likely to behave in the near future.

From showing projections according to Wikibon about big data to sharing performance results from a host of companies in advanced analytics to offering industry updates from companies like Salesforce, this roundup goes deep.

It offers a phenomenal summary of what has already happened, what is bound to happen, and a hint of how you can prepare your team for the future of analytics and BI.

Key Takeaway:

89% of business leaders believe big data will revolutionize business operation will revolutionize business operations the same way Internet did.

2.   Simplify Your Analytics Strategy

Author: Narendra Mulani 

Publisher: Harvard Business Review

In the past few years, the interest in analytics among businesses has been growing exponentially. And this is fair enough, considering the results and benefits that come with a good understanding and application of analytics.

However, analytics also come with its share of challenges. Unseen, these challenges are a major cause for giving up and using traditional and less-effective approaches.

In this HBR post, Narendra Mulani shows you exactly how to ease your analytics strategy step-by-step. What’s more, she gives real-world examples of how companies applied some of the strategies to boost growth.

Key Takeaways:

To overcome this [getting stuck with applying analytics], companies should pursue a simpler path to uncovering the insight in their data and making insight-driven decisions that add value.

The path to insight doesn’t come in one single form. There are many different elements in play, and they are always changing — business goals, technologies, data types, data sources, and then some are in a state of flux.

3.   Why Decision Science Matters

Author: K. V. Rao

Publisher: TechCrunch 

While you certainly already know about data science, you probably don’t know what “decision science” is, why it matters, and how the two disciplines can be integrated in business for effective operation and ultimate growth.

K.V. Rao explains all that in this TechCrunch article.

According to Rao decision science is an indispensable tool. Most notably, it dramatically enhances an organization's ability to identify risks and rewards. From this insightful post, it’s clear that without decision science most (if not all) business operations not only take longer and require far more resources … but can even fail completely.

Key Takeaway:

“Decision science” aptly encapsulates how computers are helping to systematically identify risks and rewards pertinent to making a business decision.

4.   5 Analytics, BI, Data Management Trends For 2015 

Author: Doug Henschen

Publisher: InformationWeek

Published in early January, this post covers predictive trends in analytics, BI and data management throughout 2015.

In the article, Doug Henschen bases his assertions on Information Week’s 2014 Annual Tracking Survey. Reviewing Doug’s trends in conjuction with what actually happened will show you just how accurate the projections were.

This is one posts you need to read not only to update yourself but also to find inspiration on how to draw projections of your own moving forward.

Key Takeaway:

The same old data and the same old tools can support the same old business, but how many CEOs are satisfied with the way things are? Not many. How many companies aren't confronting big challenges? Plenty. Don't embrace change for the sake of change, but don't be complacent in 2015.

5.   Why Your Business Lacks Intelligence

Author: Gene Marks

Publisher: Forbes 

BI tools are crucial for cutting-edge business. In fact, most companies are already investing in such software.

Unfortunately, very few of those companies think deeply about how people and software should interact. This is what Gene Marks calls measuring “the intelligence for these business intelligence solutions.”

Gene shines a spotlight on the importance of calculating the full cost of having an effective BI tool. He reminds you that if you are thinking of investing in a tool, you better be thinking about investing in a competent person to work with the software as well.

In other words, BI software is not at all a worthy investment for your business if you are not willing to invest in the right people to work with it.

Key Takeaway:

If business intelligence is important to you, and it should be, then you can make use of these tools. But it will come at a cost. You will have to invest in a person.

6.   3 Enterprise Business Intelligence Trends That Can Benefit Your Business

Author: Himanshu Sareen 

Publisher: Entrepreneur 

In this Entrepreneur article, Himanshu Sareen highlight just how unpredictable BI technology is when it comes to understanding who is leading the revolution.

“Old giants” rarely create the changes we expect. On the contrary, it is young and upcoming companies that are leading the revolution.

As the title suggests, Himanshu outlines the three most notable trends in BI technology that will affect how you do business and how fast your company grows:

  1. The rise of social intelligence

  2. The emergence of smart analytics

  3. The growth of increased threat intelligence

Key Takeaway:

By implementing advanced BI threat analytics tools into your business’ security system, you’ll be better prepared to analyze attacks when they happen, instead of remaining vulnerable to blind spots that can spell big trouble.

7.   Tell Me a Story: Why Data Analysts Must Be Storytellers, Too

Author: Meta S. Brown

Publisher: All Analytics

In this post, Meta S. Brown explains why storytelling is hands down the best connection between data analysts and the decision makers.

She begins by stating that despite how overwhelming data collection, analysis, and presentation may be, there is a chance to give impressionable stories as the data comes from millions of real people.

Meta offers five reasons why storytelling in data works. Within those reasons are pointers on how to make your own data stories exciting and relevant.

Stories work. Good stories always work. And finding the right “formula” to incorporate stories into your data is the key to making them work.

 Key Takeaway:

The problem is that data analysts present information in ways that mean little to those outside our profession. But everyone understands a good story.

8.   Mobile BI: 6 Key Ingredients for Success

Author: Fred Sandsmark

Publisher: BetterBuys

Naturally, mobile has been a huge point of focus when it comes to trends in business concerning customer-reach and general business automation.

More and more people are using mobile devices to access the internet and do almost everything that was only possible on desktop just a few years ago.

This BetterBuys post zeros in on the mobile-optimization emphasis your business demands. Can you succeed? What do you need? Read about the six key ingredients here.

Key Takeaway:

And these factors are just a starting point; your specific circumstances and goals will shape the ways your company approaches mobile BI. If someone tells you that a prescribed, pre-packaged solution can solve all your problems, your best response is … skepticism.

9. Cloud BI: Going where the data lives

Author: Nancy Gohring 

Publisher: Network World

Cloud BI has been with us for almost a decade now.

However, recent trends in BI show that there are far more people storing and generating data from the cloud now than ever before.

Why now? What specific benefits does the cloud offer that make it the desired destination? What are experts in the industry saying?

Nancy Gohring, through this Network World post, takes you through the trends and gives concrete reasons why cloud adoption is soaring.

Key Takeaway:

Nevertheless, some businesses have already adopted cloud BI services, analysts report anecdotally, though specific figures aren't available. Many companies that have made the move say that the benefits -- including fast time to market, no need to maintain on-premises software and simplicity of use -- outweigh any downsides.

10. The Ease of Business Analytics

Author: Shannon Kempe

Publisher: DataVersity

The evolution of data analytics has led to creation of a multiplicity of tools all designed with the aim to solve the problems that come with analytics.

Most of these tools, however, do not deliver on the promise of their developers.

What’s the problem? Could the people behind the software be developing with the wrong target in mind? Is the end user supposed to be a pro data scientist or just a simple user looking to make their work easier?

Shannon Kempe, in this DataVersity post, examines BeyondCore, one of the best data analytics tools out there. She looks at how it works, its advantages, and much more.

Key Takeaway:

“Deeper analytics is really important,” Sengupta proclaimed. “And if it is, people need to have access to it in a ridiculously easy way. If it is not important, then we are all wasting our time anyway.”

11. How Big Data Can Make You a Better Marketer

Author: Svetla Yankova

Publisher: CMSWire

For some marketers, big data is “the answer” to all their digital prayers.

For others, well… it’s seen more as a fad that could never replace human intuition (this is a dangerous group).

In this post, Svelta Yankowa not only tells you why big data is important but also shows you exactly how necessary it is to marketing goals in particular.

Svelta does a stellar job of explaining why big data is much more than what you think. Best of all, instead of relying on gut feeling or under-utilizing the data you have, she shows you exactly  what you can do to incorporate data effectively in your online marketing.

Key Takeaway:

Before we can tap the results of big data, we need to examine the perspectives that are used to fill the funnel — growth and sales — and think about some of the fundamental shifts that are taking place.

From 2015 … into 2016

There you have it. The 11 best posts -- along with their key takeaways -- from 2015.

Remember, the point in all of these isn’t just to look back. Instead, their value lies helping you set clear priorities for 2016.

Of course, with just 11 articles … I may have left out your personal favorite.

If I did, I’d love to have you share what you consider the top article of 2015 in the comments.