A Look Ahead – Business Intelligence Trends and Developments

Robert Doherty, Product Director of Nathean Technologies, discusses BI trends and developments for the year ahead.

The BI market is evolving and changing rapidly, particularly in recent years. Here are my predictions for the top BI trends and developments for the year ahead.

1. In-Memory Solutions
If you follow what’s happening in the BI industry, you will have heard about “in-memory” BI solutions.  Although in-memory has been around for over three decades, its popularity has exploded in recent years.

In-memory refers to BI software that utilises an in-memory database for processing data, providing an alternative to data warehouses.  The most obvious reason for opting for in-memory is the speed of analysis that it offers. This is a significant benefit to business users as often the biggest bottleneck in typical BI applications is slow database access.  In addition to faster data access, in-memory analytics can reduce the need for indexing which in turn reduces IT costs and allows for faster implementation of BI software.

According to Gartner, the world’s leading technology research company, in-memory capabilities will continue to be an enabling technology. They will expand BI to a broader range of users, as more and more BI vendors incorporate it into their portfolios to deliver Google-like responses in exploring vast amounts of increasingly diverse data types via intuitive, yet sophisticated mobile BI tools and applications.


2. Self-Service Capabilities
Self-service BI continues to be sought after by companies in which their users want immediate access and control over data without having to rely heavily on the IT department.  Forrester Research supports this trend towards self-service, stating that self-service features of BI tools, such as semantic layers and search capabilities, will become increasingly critical when selecting and deploying BI tools and solutions.

One important factor that organisations have to consider when deploying a self-service BI tool is deciding the level of control users should get over business data. No control is unrealistic but too much control can have a negative impact on an organisation in the long-term. It’s about finding the right balance to suit the needs of the end users and IT staff. The right solution will offer the agility that self-service delivers while controlling the level of access users can get.

3. Multiple BI tools
Over the past decade, there has been a significant rise in the number of organisations deploying multiple BI tools. Rather than going against this trend, organisations should be embracing it. There is no vendor out there that can offer all of the necessary BI capabilities so why not get it from a suite of solutions? This ensures companies are getting the maximum value from their data while remaining as flexible as possible.

Keep in mind however, that having too many BI tools can have the opposite effect. Streamline or reduce the number of tools you may have to a manageable level and ensure the right management approach is in place to gain the most from each of them.

4. BI becomes more widespread 
There was a time when business intelligence was viewed as a luxury purchase. Nowadays, business intelligence has become a necessity for the vast majority of organisations due to the phenomenal growth of data.  Every company and every role has information requirements that cannot be met by spreadsheets alone.  According to a recent study by Gartner, 47% of survey respondents ranked data growth in their top three challenges.

BI has also become a lot more affordable. New cost-effective BI packages give SMEs the kind of data analysis capabilities only previously found in large multinationals. This makes BI far more accessible and scalable to small and large companies alike.

5. Agility is Key
According to Forrester Research, 70% of BI decision makers are facing business requirements that change monthly or even more frequently. Therefore, it’s no surprise that one of the biggest trends this year is a movement towards more agile BI solutions.

Traditional BI tools have never been fully responsive or flexible, which has led to a rising demand for agility.  Agile BI is characterized by a low Total Cost of Change (TCC). It is not only able to handle change better; it actively encourages business users and IT professionals to think about their data differently, to easily ask new questions and to visualize the answers in a variety of interesting & informative ways.

6. Social Integration
Social BI can deliver significant advantages as it provides point-in-time snapshots and opinions directly from the target audience. By integrating social media data with other data across the organisation, decision makers can get live, up-to-date feedback on anything they want. Data analytics can now be used to measure the performance of social media campaigns and gain a better understanding of brand awareness in the marketplace.

We are seeing organisations taking a more pragmatic view to reporting and analysis and focusing on their immediate key business drivers. Consequently businesses are investing in technology which starts to deliver results cost effectively in days not months or years.

The number one factor we see is time-to-value. Before investing in new technology businesses want to know how quickly they will they see benefits.

Visit www.nathean.com for more information about Agile Business Intelligence and how it can help your organisation.

What are your thoughts on these trends? Please leave your comments below.

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