Before sharing my annual analytics industry trends forecast for 2018, I wanted to quickly summarize reader hot topics and my past predictions right, wrong and totally missed from 2017. Here is a look back at the expected, surprising and shocking waves of industry change.

Most Popular Articles

In 2017, I was blessed and incredibly fortunate to have an overload of billable work in the feast or famine “gig economy”. Notably there were more sponsored articles this year but only a few of those rose to the top.

  1. My annual Gartner BI and Analytics Magic Quadrant rant retained the top #1 spot. It was the most viewed article again this year reaching a much larger audience.
  2. My #2 ranked, most popular article still amazes me – Part 1: Integrating R with Web Applications. I honestly don’t know why this one gets so much traffic year after year.
  3. Another old article, My Favorite Public Data Sources also continues to be popular with my readers taking the #3 ranking this year.

Other top ranked articles include my hands-on, brutally honest and sometimes sassy solution reviews.  My outdated 2014 Understanding the Differences: Microsoft Power BI versus Tableau still gets way too much traffic. That one is no longer getting 3,800 views a day like it did when the data visualization market peaked but that one still ranks in the top #5 most read articles of 2017. Amazon QuickSight Today was ranked in the top ten along with How To Integrate Tableau with Microsoft Reporting Services. Real-time analytics topics ranked highly along with visually analyzing predictive models, getting started with Python, Between the Lines at Tableau Conference, Adidas case study, and smart data discovery articles.

What I Got Right

Last year I shared that intelligence powered by algorithms would be the center of our digital universe. Advanced analytics, machine learning-powered, autonomous business processes, intelligent things (IoT), natural language and conversational “bot” interfaces would all be mega-hot. Indeed they were. Several of the hottest startups last year included DataRobot, H2Oai, Algorithmia, Dataiku, Anaconda, Automated Insights,Narrative Science, Tellius, and Alpine Data (acquired by TIBCO).

Machine learning and artificial intelligence were the most talked about topics

I also noted that my big bet through 2022 is that big tech will dominate the analytics industry. I believe that now more than ever. I hope it is cyclical but I am not betting on that trend to change. In the analytics world, we witnessed further market consolidation, niche vendor setbacks and naive small vendors tout big tech partnerships that rapidly evolved into their own casualties.

Big tech companies are the most powerful force on our planet today

In 2017, big tech expanded ownership of digital media propaganda machines, incessantly advertised and promoted feel-good PR campaigns. They also invested more on tech community sponsorship and open source initiatives. This year we heard more about big tech personal data troves, silencing of dissenting views and daily allegations of fake news. We saw several successful big tech funded legal interventions to change government policies and effective lobbying that resulted in legal exceptions for big tech vendors. As momentum to move business apps and data sources to several cloud vendors continues to alter global market dynamics, those big tech players can easily crush small players in a digital era of deregulation.

Other spot on predictions that I shared include the following:

  1. Embedded analytics growth along with cognitive, predictive and prescriptive analytics increasingly being embedded into line-of-business apps. Salesforce Einstein is a stellar example of that trend becoming reality.
  2. Cloud and hybrid analytics continued growing even in historically cloud-unfriendly markets and vertical industries.
  3. Streaming analytics and data ingestion technologies were adopted for IoT use cases with predictive algorithms to detect exceptions and provide proactive alerts.
  4. Monetizing data was a hot topic this year. Doug Laney’s book, Infonomics: How to Monetize, Manage, and Measure Information as an Asset for Competitive Advantage, cross promoted by Gartner marketing helped elevate data monetization interest.
  5. Data security and privacy continued to be critical topics in the analytics industry and beyond. The Equifax data breach that put 143 million American consumers sensitive personal information at risk did escalate concerns regarding the current lack of accountability and much needed improvement to secure sensitive data. Pending GDPR laws forced organizations to finally get serious about data management processes and the proper handling of European citizen personal data.

What I Got Wrong

Several predictions that I made ended up not playing out as I had expected. Although Amazon cloud offerings vastly improved and expanded, Amazon Quicksight was practically neglected this year. Google’s TensorFlow and advances in artificial intelligence were astounding. However, there was minimal enhancement to Google Data Studio. IBM Watson Analytics disappeared from the radar after IBM Data Science Experience was introduced last year. Paxata also faded into the background while Trifacta had an incredible year.

Analytics automation is still in an early innovation stage

I was way too early on my pervasive analytics automation and immersive analytics experiences with virtual reality predictions. We saw some analytics automation come to life in 2017 but that automation is still in an early innovation stage. Although I did have several new vendors brief me in the virtual reality for data visualization space, all of them appear to be experimental versus practical for day-to-day analytics use cases.

What I Never Expected

Trends that I totally missed in my annual predictions included the resurgence of dimensional modeling, OLAP skills becoming hot again, the data catalog movement, and Python surpassing R for analytics.

Resurgence of dimensional modeling and OLAP skills becoming hot again

I had no clue that Zoho, a low-cost cloud SaaS vendor that sells a cloud reporting solution plus many other popular CRM, marketing and business app offerings, grew to win over 30 million customers. I mentioned Zoho as a potential alternative to Microsoft Office 365 or Google’s G Suite earlier this year. I’ll be exploring Zoho Reports in 2018. Based on what I saw in analyst briefing demos, Zoho Reports seems to have more depth and breadth of capabilities than other cloud BI offerings. I was stunned. I still need to test it myself to understand where Zoho shines brightly, what gaps exist and when this one makes sense to recommend.

Zoho grew to win over 30 million customers this year

Lastly, I admit that I never would have guessed that female gender-related challenges would make mainstream headline media news. If these stories received media coverage in the past, they were typically buried, not highlighted and not widely shared. I am still in shock that Time Magazine selected the “silence breakers” for person of the year 2017. Why now after all these years? This was not news for most women. Millions of social media feeds around the world confirmed that point using a #MeToo tag. Women that did speak up were shunned by both men and women. In my opinion, that harsh reality likely won’t change. What might change? I don’t know. There may be additional resources to get help when it is needed. I do know a new crowd-sourced, multi-million dollar legal fund was just started by women in Hollywood. I also noticed a proposed Senate Bill 5423 that would make workplace bullying illegal. Today cruel, financially devastating bullying and sabotage behavior at work is not illegal.

That wraps up my perspective of 2017. Looking forward to sharing 2018 predictions next…