Maritza Curry, Business Intelligence manager at Woolworths ITS.

Maritza Curry, Business Intelligence manager at Woolworths ITS.

The competitive environment that organisations are operating in is changing drastically. In the past, large organisations competed with each other, but today they have to compete with software start-ups like Uber and Airbnb.

This is according to Maritza Curry, Business Intelligence manager at Woolworths ITS, who was speaking at the ITWeb Business Intelligence Summit 2017 yesterdayat The Forum in Bryanston. Curry explained our world is changing at a fast speed and in ways that we couldn't have foreseen five years ago. These new start-ups, she said, have managed to use big data in ways that make them understand their competitors and their business environment much better than most companies do.

"We live in a digital economy, and knowledge and data has become the currency that most companies are using to compete. So start-ups are using data not only to disrupt established industries but also to transform them and in some cases, to completely reinvent these industries," she noted. "In this digital environment, we see new technologies and new digital trends every day which not only change our competitive environment, but also shape our future."

Many of these new technologies, through AI, are determining how we use analytics in the future and they will change the business intelligence (BI) audiences that organisations cater to, she added.  She gave examples of emerging industries like sustainable energy and e-learning, which are opening different avenues of how analytics are used, and support organisations through data.

"Other technologies like drones will also collect data in completely new ways, so in order to support all these new technologies, we need new skills and new aptitudes, not only in BI teams but also in IT departments and business teams within organisations, she continued.

Curry made reference to a Gartner research study which found that by 2019, the BI analytics software spend will be almost $27 billion globally. In MEA the BI spend will be $4.1 billion by 2020.

"So it's no wonder that CIOs think BI and analytics is their top technology priority," she continued.

BI success rate

BI and analytics may be at the top of the CIO's priority list, however, Curry pointed out there is another side to the story: "According to Gartner 30% to 90% of BI projects fail, and half of executives say they would rather use their guts to make important business decisions than to use BI systems in their organisations."

That is probably because fewer than 30% of BI projects actually deliver what they promise to deliver – to help business leaders to be able to measure KPIs and business drivers, she noted.

"So we can't continue to do BI in the way we have been doing it in the past decade, we have to change in order for BI projects to deliver and accomplish their primary objectives," she concluded.