It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - Tableau's Top 10 BI Trends 2018

Written By Jamie Laird, Edited By Lewis Fogden
Thu 16 November 2017, in category Business intelligence



This week, Tableau published its Top 10 Business Intelligence Trends 2018 report and, much like the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte at my local Starbucks and the twinkling of Christmas lights on every high street, it's a timely reminder that the year is drawing to a close and 2018 is just around the corner.


The report provides an insightful perspective on the emerging technologies and trends that will come to the fore over the next 12 months. I encourage you to read the report in full. If, however, your Pocket is bursting at the seams with white-papers and reports you haven't quite gotten around to reading, I've distilled down the key points in a blog-friendly format. I hope you find it helpful.

1. Machine Learning Will Enhance the Analyst

While it's no surprise to see AI topping a trends list, it's encouraging to see Tableau going beyond the buzz and developing a more rounded vision of how these technologies will fit into the modern workplace. The Tableau vision for AI, according to the report, is as the ultimate “analyst's assistant”, enabling them to spend less time crunching numbers and more time thinking about how to apply insights to their business.

Key stat: By 2020 AI will create 0.5 million more jobs than it eliminates (Gartner)

2. The Human Impact of Liberal Arts in the Analytics Industry

As someone with a humanities background who moved across into tech this struck a chord with me. Companies will place higher value on hiring workers with Liberal Arts backgrounds to analytical roles, as skills like storytelling, persuasion and empathy become equally or even more important for data workers than pure technical skills.

Key stat: Liberal arts grads are joining the tech workforce 10% more rapidly than technical grads (LinkedIn)

3. The NLP Promise

Natural Language Processing “will grow in prevalence, sophistication and ubiquity” in 2018, the report says, becoming a key interface between business users and analysts and their data. A hint at exciting things to come in future versions of Tableau?

Key stat: By 2020 50% of analytical queries will be generated via search, NLP or voice (Gartner)

4. The Debate for Multi-Cloud

Enterprises will move towards implementing multi-cloud enterprises, leveraging combinations of tools like AWS and Azure rather than tying themselves to one platform. This brings benefits of flexibility but also risks around governance, technical expertise and workload demands.

Key stat: 70% of enterprises will be implementing a multi-cloud strategy by 2019 (Gartner)

5. Rise of the CDO

Organisations will continue to move BI responsibilities (data governance, building analytical models, and so on) away from CIOs and towards CDOs (Chief Data Officers). CDOs will be highly outcome-focussed and strategic and will wield increasing power within their businesses.

Key stat: By 2020, 50% of leading organisations will have a CDO with similar levels of strategy influence and authority as their CIO (Gartner)

6. The Future of Data Governance is Crowdsourced

As self-service analytics expands access to data, new and innovative ways of implementing data governance will emerge. Top-down processes controlled by IT will, says the report, be replaced by collaborative processes that draw on expertise of the whole business.

Key stat: 45% of "data citizens" say less than half of their reports have good quality data. (Collibra)

7. Vulnerability Leads to a Rise in Data Insurance

With the cost data breaches becoming an increasingly visible financial risk for companies, an industry will emerge providing cyber and privacy insurance to cover liabilities for data breaches, the report predicts.

Key stat: Only 15% of US companies have an insurance policy for their data (Ponemon)

8. Increased Prominence of the Data Engineer Role

Demand will rise for data engineers who can design, build and manage a businesses' operational and analytical databases in a way that supports growing numbers of self-service analytics users.

Key stat: Analysts can spend as much as 80% of their time cleaning and preparing data (TechRepublic)

9. The Location of Things will Drive IoT Innovation

The ability for more and more IoT devices to report location data will drive growth of “location of things” analytics, using technologies like Bluetooth Low Energy to enable hotels and stores to track and report on the location of people and assets within their buildings.

Key stat: IoT endpoints will grow to 30 billion by 2020 (IDC)

10. Universities Double Down on Data Science & Analytics Programs

Universities, say Tableau, will offer many more courses in data science and analytics in 2018 as demand for graduates exceeds expectations.

Key stat: 40% of managers have trouble hiring analytical talent (MIT)

Jamie Laird is Principal Consultant at Keyrus UK. You can find him on Twitter @jamielaird_.