Millennials Give Business Intelligence a Big Boost

Business.com / Business Intelligence / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

With Millennials taking over the workforce, it makes sense to bring your business intelligence capabilities up to speed.

Business intelligence has an engagement problem. Despite all the talk about big data revolutionizing the business world, the usage numbers for BI have remained stagnant for 10 years.

Big data, or the large data sets that can be analyzed to spot trends, patterns and other correlations, can have a huge impact when it’s used with BI. Business Intelligence, or the tools that gather, store and analyze the data itself to develop a business’s strategy, has the potential to help companies of all sizes make smarter decisions and uncover hidden market opportunities, yet only about a quarter of employees are actually using it, BIScorecard found.

That’s about to change.  

In 2015, Millennials will become the largest age group in the American workforce. These young people grew up online, and they’re already comfortable with the concept and the applications of big data. To save business intelligence programs and capitalize on these young tech natives, businesses should adapt their BI platforms to meet Millennials’ needs (rather than expecting Millennials to adapt to their way of doing things).

Related Article: Millennials In the Workplace: How Will They Affect Hiring?

Millennials could be the key to building more accessible, engaging business intelligence platforms and give businesses an edge in an increasingly data-driven economy.

There are three main steps business leaders can take to adapt to the millennial way of life, improve their business intelligence platforms and thrive in the years ahead:

1. Reassess how data is consumed

Mobile phones have changed the way people consume information; Pew Research Center found that 62 percent of the population uses mobile phones to get information right when they need it, for everything from settling arguments to locating directions. Wearables stand to refine that data collection even further. Rather than having BI data buried inside a dashboard, Millennials expect relevant data to be served up on every device (even smartwatches), in easily digestible, personalized chunks.

Analytics platforms have already begun to adapt, creating new ways to filter relevant data to the right departments and ensure that data is available everywhere. This makes BI more useful and accessible to everyone.

2. Make it collaborative

It’s no secret that Millennials love to share. They want to see what’s happening in real time and like, comment and share it. That type of interaction is natural for them, and they’d feel deprived without it.

Unfortunately, data is often kept in departmental silos, leading to an incomplete picture for everyone. If enterprise collaboration is strictly top-down, leaders should find another way to bring everyone into the fold to enable better decision-making.

Encourage employees to collaborate around data and even be actively cued into data that their colleagues have shown interest in. The faster employees can share and collaborate, the more easily they can reach a consensus and make informed decisions.

Related: The Business Intelligence Survival Guide

3. Transform data from pull to push

Millennials have become accustomed to a near-constant stream of feedback. Whether they’re being notified that someone retweeted their post or receiving an automatic billing confirmation email, Millennials rarely have to go find information themselves. Rather, it comes to them.

The same should be true of the information they get at work. Relevant metrics and changes in data should be pushed out to employees so they don’t have to go to a dashboard to seek it out themselves.

They should receive alerts for metrics they’re responsible for and be prompted to comment on important trends. These alerts could be as simple as “Your boss is commenting on something, so you should be paying attention” or as complex as alerts for metrics they might be interested in based on previous data.

Just be sure all data notifications are relevant. If employees develop “alert fatigue,” they’ll ignore notifications. In fact, a 2013 Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association study found that doctors who were overwhelmed by medical alerts overrode half of the alerts they received; and only half of those overrides were appropriate.

Millennials are poised to overtake the workforce, and for leaders hoping to use data to optimize their companies, the timing couldn’t be better. As long as businesses are willing to adapt their BI platforms to meet Millennials’ consumption habits, they can look forward to stronger engagement around data, more effective collaboration and more informed decision-making.

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