Citizen Analysts : The Future of Australian Business Intelligence?
Date: 24/11/2017

By Dmitri Tverdomed

BI products have democratised data to the extreme, giving rise to the citizen analyst. However, IT consultants still have an important part to play.

The ivory tower of traditional business analytics has come crashing down. With the rise of Modern BI and Analytics products like Tableau and PowerBI, data analytics for Australian businesses is now in the hands of staff, rather than an external IT firm. It's self-service BI large, thanks to capable and sophisticated tools with streamlined interfaces.

This culture of accessibility has given rise to the citizen analyst - individuals who harness these BI tools to perform the function that many IT consultants did a few years ago. But the citizen analyst is more than a product of the times - it's a starting point for something even greater.

How the citizen analyst rose to prominence

Just five years ago, business analytics insights had a shelf life of years. Consultants, largely on the IT side would gather, analyse and translate data into specific business outcomes, which would apply to a company for long enough periods to justify the cost.

However, the Australian business landscape is changing rapidly. Market disruptors, new methods of gathering data, evolving audiences and emerging marketplaces mean that a business' insights from two years ago are no longer relevant. They need continuous delivery of business data solutions, with updated takeaways every few months - at most.

This has necessitated the shift from traditional IT consulting handling business analytics to citizen analysts using BI products to do it themselves. By removing external parties, companies can process everything they need at a faster pace, for a lower cost.

You can see this in Gartner's quadrant shifts - leaders from just a few years ago, the core tools of IT consultants are now niche players. PowerBI, Tableau and IBM Watson Analytics are the new leaders - tools that enable businesses to analyse big data themselves. It's a democratisation of data that empowers everyone.

Building business intelligence partnerships with citizen analysts

The rise of the citizen analyst is undoubtedly good for business - but it is a model with drawbacks.

For example - the sheer volume of data that businesses need to process on a regular process requires clear organisation and protection, especially with the proliferation of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation. Data auditability and hygiene must be focal points for businesses conducting their own BI, but it can be a complex system to implement.

Business analytics is the first step in a lengthy journey to getting true value from data

This is where the future of IT consulting lies. Not in conducting BI itself, but in partnering with businesses to help them realise the full value of the data they are harnessing. Staying within legislative guidelines, giving data context and assisting with modern data management will be key focal points of this partnership.

Working independently, citizen analysts can easily interpret data sets for short-term business gains. Partnering with Data Analytics consultants, they can turn those wins into long-term growth and truly be on the cutting edge of business analytics.

If you'd like to discuss this further please contact Steven Gill at steven.gill@cornerstone.com.au or on 0421 566 219.