The business is demanding more and more from their IT department. In their thirst for extending Business Intelligence and Analytical support it is essential to build a strong information foundation to fund future use. Key elements are Master Data Management (with Customer Master Data as the obvious first), Data Quality improvements and robust BI platforms. With a Return-On-Intelligence (ROI) in mind, this requires a highly industrialized and efficient approach to BI services.
Big data gets bigger and bigger
The rise in volume (amount of data), velocity (speed of data) and variety (range of data) gives way to new architectures that no longer only collect and store but actually use data. The challenge however is that Big data, as opposed to its name, is really many amounts of small data ranging from tweets, sales reports to mail messages. Therefore performance is key word. Look for technology solutions like datawarehouse appliances, in memory analytics, columnar storage and smart software solutions.
Need for speed
Even though the size of data is increasing the BI user is expecting faster answers from their BI environment. Whether it is standard reports or navigating trough (source) data. In memory technology (as opposed to separate disk storage) will allow for new business usage. In order to store, process and gain insight from Big data, on-demand or real-time BI architectures will replaces traditional datawarehouses.
Up in the cloud
Cloud or As A Service models are in increased demand for both temporary as well as permanent usage. It’s all about services (like reporting or analytics) provided from a managed environment based on a (new) business model (often pay per use). In other words: making BI (hardware, software, intelligence) available via the internet.
Agility is the new normal
Historically BI has been IT controlled data collection, integration and distribution of historical data. However BI has evolved into being part of the ongoing daily (operational, tactic and strategic) business processes to plan, monitor and improve on organizational goals. Next generation BI is therefore by nature more agile in its development (BI lifecycle) and requires (real- or righttime) insights into increasingly complex questions.
Do IT yourself
BI once was the field of a limited number of expert users but has come a long way since. Trough the democratization of information, placing BI in the hand of many but still as a separate process. BI now has become part of our daily work. With this comes the increased need to create insight on the fly instead of trough standard IT (governance) processes. More and more BI users are taking over tasks that traditionally were the field of the IT developers.
Social Media are hot
Social media like Twitter and Facebook are no longer a hype or a trend but part of the everyday life from a personal as well from business perspective. They can supply organizations with essential information about their customers opinions. Combined with the actual customer behavior as captured in transactional systems this proves to be a wealth of information.
Google fast, Apple easy
Just like at home, business users are expecting an engine that searches all available data (structured and unstructured, internal and external) to quickly find answers. Navigating through the results to find patterns, trends could be improved with advanced visualizations. The result is a consumerization of enterprise BI. The corporate BI App Store is (virtually) just around the corner.
Business & IT in therapy
BI users are struggling to get faster access to more data. For this the need to build, maintain and organize BI solutions increases. IT therefore is in an unique position to enable the BI business user. However it often seems like business comes from Mars and IT from Venus. Aligning both parties (for example in a BI competence center) is a first step.
Let’s go mobile
BI users want to access their data anytime and anywhere. This puts a demand on both the backend of any BI solution (like datawarehouse appliances) but also on the frontend where information access and visualization must be possible. The increased use of tables and smartphones has already become mainstream in many business environment.
Location Intelligence: Complex layering
The ability to map, visualize and understand data form a geographical standpoint will become an increasingly important part of any BI solution. Why? Because, according to IDC, more than 80 percent of the data collected by organizations has a spatial element and vendors are finally starting to offer integrated mapping with their BI platforms.
Gartner’s 2012 BI Magic Quadrant survey revealed that many organizations across a diverse range of industries are beginning to apply BI and analytics to new business areas. As a result, respondents listed “geographic-intelligent functions” as one of the standout new product requirements for 2012.
Such functions, often encapsulated in the term Location Intelligence (LI), enable business analysts to apply geographic contexts to business data – LI combines location-based data with traditional metrics captured within a BI system. It helps answer a business problem by providing context to business data.
Mobile BI – the ability to place reporting and analytics in the hands of decision-makers, wherever they are via their favorite mobile devices – will intensify in 2012. Excitement, procrastination and plans will transform into action as organizations realize the benefits of timely fact-based data outweigh security and integration concerns.
The potential benefits are significant. TDWI best practices report – Mobile Business Intelligence and analytics: Extending Insight to a Mobile Workforce – found that the top four business benefits sought from Mobile BI are:
Improved customer sales, service, and support (65%)
More efficiency and coordination in operations and business processes (60%)
Faster deployment of BI and analytics applications and services (50%)
Customer self-service benefits (45%)
SaaS: BI in the Cloud spurs SMB adoption
A recent Gartner report suggested that cloud-based BI is being adopted at a slow, ‘steady as she goes’ pace, accounting for only three percent of BI revenue by 2013. Whilst this prediction puts much of the hype into perspective, we believe the Software as a Service (SaaS) BI market will experience stronger growth given the potentially lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for small to midsized businesses (SMBs).
Despite Big Data rating highly on Gartner’s latest “Hype Cycle” – it’s not all puffery. Big Data will continue to receive significant market place attention in 2012, as vendors and analysts scramble to meet and dissect emerging market demand. But why has Big Data become a hot topic? The answer seems to be two-fold – and fairly simple. Firstly, new, affordably priced, products and services have emerged to give organizations the capability and capacity to capture more information than ever before. A recent TDWI article – 5 Macro Trends Shaping Next-generation BI and Analytics – provides an extremely relevant example of how such developments have changed corporate data collation approaches and mindsets: “suppose you run a manufacturing company that produces baby bottles. In 2001, you probably focused on just two data points: how many bottles your plants produced and how much money you made from that production. Today, however, you’re likely to track how many bottles you manufacture and how much money you make as well as how satisfied your customers are, what percentage are repeat customers, and what people are saying about your bottles on social networks.”
This has been simultaneously meet with the expansion of existing data types and sources, and the creation of new ones. The emergence and continuing proliferation of a multitude of notable social media platforms has created vast amounts of potential customer data. Data which is just waiting to be mined and explored! For example, Facebook now has over 800 million users whose details, preferences and interactions are available for analysis.
Ease-of-use will be the number one BI priority
Players from both side of the proverbial fence in the BI marketplace will work hard to consolidate the most notable and overarching trend to affect the software segment since its inception – ease-of-use. Why? Because organizations have realized the value in equipping non-technical employees and business areas outside IT with ‘self-serve’ reporting and analytics and, naturally, vendors are-all-too-keen to tap into that vastly expanded potential customer base.
Gartner’s 2011 and 2012 BI Magic Quadrant surveys report “ease-of-use” as the new number one purchase consideration for BI platforms. New Ventana benchmark research on business analytics elicited a similar response from participants, with 89 percent expressing a desire for simpler analytics. Like Gartner, Ventana’s “Value Index” also lists product usability (57%) as the most important evaluation criteria, according to end-users, for product assessment.
Consumerization of BI
The continued consumerization of BI – the inclusion and development of user-friendly features and functionality making reporting and analytics accessible to a wider array of users – will generate more widespread user adoption and better BI Return on Investment (ROI). Gartner’s June 2011 report – The Consumerization of BI Drives Greater Adoption – stated that the consumerization of BI had resulted in a new bread of end-user focused BI solutions, capable of delivering faster, more relevant results to business people of all backgrounds, and a better ROI. The report also suggested that this trend marks “arguably the biggest shift in BI adoption since the rise of enterprise-class BI platforms in the late 1990s”.
Demand for real-time insights, shrinking business timeliness and an increasingly competitive global marketplace is placing increasing pressure on acceptable query speeds. As such, in-memory capabilities will grow in importance as organizations demand answers to critical business questions at Google-like speed.
Collaborative or Social BI – the integration of information sharing features and functionality of popular Web 2.0 technologies and social media platforms within a BI platform – will experience steady uptake and significant interest in 2012. Interest and uptake will intensify as organizations realize the ability of in-built collaborative decision-making (CDM) modules to bridge the gap between insight and action – producing better, faster decisions and stronger ROI for BI projects.