I recently read Seth Godin’s We All Are Weird, a book about marketing and the way society is changing. Being in product marketing at QlikTech, one of the major themes of the book really struck home. That theme is something along the lines of “The Age of Empowerment.”
Godin wrote, “ . . . the increasing impact of amateurs working to professional standards . . . means that amateurs, unannointed by any profession entity, can publish, create, and connect. It means that a single individual can change the way we think about just-in-time manufacturing, Halloween costumes, or anything in between.” This is a hugely important concept when it comes to business intelligence. When it comes to BI, you no longer have to be a pro to be a . . . pro.
In a May 2011 report about Big Data, McKinsey Global Institute estimated that by the year 2018, there will be 440,000 to 490,000 positions in the U.S. for people with deep analytical talent. These are the “anointed” professionals. McKinsey also noted that there will be 8 to 9 times as many (4 million) positions for data-savvy managers and analysts. These are the Pro-Ams (professional-amateurs) — the people who explore data, make discoveries, and derive insights that lead to better business decisions. They may not have advanced degrees in statistics. But they know their business inside and out and they are empowered to publish, create, and connect.
In the past, Pro-Ams have been under-served by the BI platforms market, which delivered tools that were really designed for business analysts and other data experts. They weren’t designed to be used by business people. But everything changes with data discovery software. According to Gartner, data discovery vendors’ innovations have had a direct impact on how easy BI software is to use and therefore adoption by business users, not just analytic experts. According to Gartner, “We see the beginnings of this trend emerging and expect it to have a significant impact on this market in the years to come — both for consumers and authors of business analytic content.” (See the February, 2012 Gartner report, “Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms.") This is a very exciting trend for the millions of BI Pro-Ams around the globe.