BI, or business intelligence, is changing, as a result of the IoT (Internet of Things). Data is a new kind of currency in today’s connected world, and it seems like just about everything we do in life and business generates data and it’s not just humans that are generating data. We are seeing all kinds of connected machines and smart devices generate unfathomable amounts of information every minute of every day.

The real question is what happens to all of this data? Answer: it depends on the context, but a lot of it falls by the wayside. We don’t need all of it, of course, but some of this data can go a long way in helping companies do business smarter. That’s where business intelligence comes in. IoT solutions help businesses turn data into actionable insights, and this is true for a range of vertical markets, from manufacturing to healthcare, finance, retail, and beyond.

We need to begin the discussion by defining business intelligence. According to Forrester Research, BI is a set of methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information. Essentially, BI helps executives make more informed business decisions with the help of realtime data. And, as a result, companies can often gain a competitive advantage over their competitors.

As with anything, it’s easy to talk about how much applying BI to business processes will create a lot of great opportunities, but it’s a lot harder to actually do it. However, there’s a lot of help out there.

A couple of weeks ago, Wisconsin’s Carroll University launched the analytics and business intelligence consortium at the Carroll University School of Business. The consortium is a multidisciplinary alliance of industry and academia that aims to provide a critical resource for organizations in southeastern Wisconsin that are looking to manage big data.

The Analytics and Business Intelligence Consortium is going to provide access to the expertise and tools businesses need to make effective decisions when it comes to data management and analytics.

For consortium members, the organization will also present opportunities to participate in collaborative analytics projects that are designed to solve real-world industry challenges. For students at Carroll University, it will offer experiential learning that will supplement classroom curriculum. The experiential learning is what’s most exciting. We need to be setting the next generation of business leaders up for success in an IoT world by teaching them how to manage and maximize data.

Another example just happens to also be Wisconsin-based. This summer, Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee formed a partnership with Northwestern Mutual to create the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute.

The partnership includes a total commitment of nearly $40 million to support data science education and research. Some of the funds, for example, will go toward supporting an endowed professorship at each university, along with supporting other new data science faculty. The funding will also support research projects, the development of expanded curriculum, K-12 STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning opportunities, and pre-college programming.

The first classes in the institute will launch as part of the 2019-2020 academic year. This is really important because business needs are changing, and they’re changing fast. The field of data science is also evolving, and the future workforce needs to be prepared. Partnerships between academia and industry are very important. We need to be bringing people into the workforce who have the knowledge and skills to solve real-life business problems with the help of big data.

We have also seen how vendors in numerous verticals are ramping up their BI offerings to meet the demand for realtime insights.

This month, for instance, an advertising agency called Momentum Worldwide launched MomentumBi, a BI platform that leverages AI (artificial intelligence) to turn structured and unstructured data into realtime insights that can enhance advertising.

Also this month, Sigma Computing launched a new business intelligence solution for cloud-data warehouses. The solution offers live access to cloud data warehouses with a spreadsheet-like interface, which makes it really easy to use. It’s a great goal—to turn any user into an analytics expert. When business executives can take control of their data without having to be “experts,” it opens up a whole new world of possibilities for their businesses.

In 2019, BI is going to be an important ticket item on companies’ to-do lists. There are a lot of vendors and BI solutions out there to consider. You have the mainstays that have been in the space for years, as well as the newcomers that are bringing some great solutions to the table.

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