'Self-Service Analytics Tools Leave The Future Of Business Intelligence One Without Boundaries'

Interview with Mario Trescone, Senior Director of Business Intelligence and Data Analytics at YMCA of the USA


Mario F. Trescone currently serves as Senior Director of Business Intelligence and Data Analytics at YMCA of the USA, sitting within the Research, Evaluation and Data Science Department. With more than twenty years experience working in the fields of consumer research, business intelligence and data analytics, within such industries as automotive, retail and consumer package goods, Mario’s unique blend of data analytics expertise with a strong marketing and operations background allows him to deliver actionable insights, illustrating strategic links between decisions made and their impact on variables both inside and outside the organization.

We sat down with him ahead of his presentation at the Business Intelligence Innovation Summit, taking place in Chicago this November 29-30.

How did you get started in Business Intelligence?

My career in Business Intelligence, although that is not what they called it then, began in 1993 when I was conducting Human Factor Research for General Motors while pursuing my degree in business from Wayne State University. I consider this as my entry point into the filed because it taught me the importance of evaluating information to make business decisions. In this instance we examined the market, and target audience to enhance the design and functionality of vehicles. From there I spent years conducting consumer insight research utilizing both qualitative and quantitative methods before moving into the world of predictive modeling and business analytics. The totality of my twenty plus year career in this field has allowed me to demonstrate to both internal and external clients the power of synthesizing information into easy to understand 'nuggets' that lead to actionable insights and ultimately meeting/exceeding their desired objectives. It allowed them to maintain relevancy in their market thereby increasing demand and revenue. I consider myself, in the field of Business Intelligence, part scientist and part educator.

With self-service analytics tools now commonplace, what do you feel is the future for Business Intelligence as we know it?

Self-service analytics tools leave the future of Business Intelligence one without boundaries. Organizations big or small, for-profit or not-for-profit, now more than ever have the ability to gather, organize, and distill information to produce actionable insights quicker, thereby enhancing their decision making process. These tools ultimately provide them the ability to react more quickly to market shifts and give them a glimpse as to what tomorrow may bring. These tools will also create opportunities for those with backgrounds in statistics, predictive analytics and data science on both the development side as well as the end-user side.

Do you think companies focus enough on external data when it comes to Business Intelligence?

Today, I believe most companies are aware of the importance of external data to stay informed and competitive, especially the large to mid-size organizations, however, they may not be structured or disciplined enough to know how to capture or apply external data within their Business Intelligence function. It really depends on how the organization is structured, its data culture, and how they ultimately are defining the Business Intelligence role. Throughout my career, the positions I have held in the realm of data analytics and research, connecting external data with operational data was/is at the heart of almost everything I do. How else do you put context around the trends you are seeing related to the current and forecasted demand of your products and services. Having a thorough understanding of your market, using both primary and secondary data, allows you to maintain a pulse on the market, ensuring relevancy of your organization today and into the future. So for anyone in the Business Intelligence role, if you are not connecting your operational information to external data sources you need to start.

What new technologies and tools do you feel are set to have the most impact on your role in the near future?

Open source code, greater accessibility to external information (market and consumer data) and the availability of tools that allow you to capture data, connect it to operational information, and then apply predictive analytics and machine learning will have the biggest impact in how the Business Intelligence role operates moving forward. These new technologies and methods will allow for faster, richer insights, enhancing decision making capabilities, and provide companies of all sizes a way to stay competitive, allowing them to tap into new opportunities than ever before in history.

What will you be discussing in your presentation?

My presentation will focus on how to design a data centric organization revolving around the Business Intelligence discipline. Many organizations are seeing the value of establishing Business Intelligence and Data Science disciplines, hence the need for this conference, however, in their rush to get the necessary BI resources, the following essential steps are often missed or not even considered. Steps that include; the culture of the organization, the role the BI function will play in the decision making process, where will this function reside and report to, how will other departments work with and interact with this new discipline, data governance, and many more factors that need to be taken into consideration in order to maximize the benefit of these specialized tools and professionals.

The core of my presentation will be centered on walking the audience through concepts to ensure they are culturally ready to embrace Business Intelligence as a core functional area, and a necessity to stay competitive in today’s fast paced global economy.  

You can hear from Mario, along with other experts in data analytics, at the Business Intelligence Innovation Summit. View the full agenda here.

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