The 8 biggest Business Intelligence developments of 2010

What’s that flashing through the night sky?

“It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…” Business Intelligence (BI)!

Like Superman, a hero of another kind – BI – has come to save the world from the prevalent evils of poor business insight and disparate, unutilized organizational data. And like Superman, the BI industry in 2010 has progressed “faster than a speeding bullet”.

This fast and furious evolution is also reflective of the overarching direction and themes dominating the BI industry in 2010 – the development of, and move towards, quicker and more flexible data access.

So here’s a list of what we’ve observed to be the big movers, shakers and extroverted dance floor hogs / show-offs of the boot stomping, hand smacking 2010 BI hoedown thus far.

1.  Mobile BI

Mobile BI refers to the capability of an organization to deliver relevant and timely data to anyone, whenever they need it, wherever they are, regardless of the device used to access that data.

As business timeframes continue to shrink and marketplace competition intensifies, organizations are looking to optimize the benefits of their data assets.

Mobile BI programs equip people across an organization with insightful business information gleaned from data analysis to support critical real-time decision-making and gain competitive positioning. The main beneficiaries of Mobile BI technologies are executives, sales and field personnel. These three user groups are constantly on-the-move and rarely at their desks, accessing information from a range of portable devices – they are device independent.

Ventana research announced in June this year that data access via mobile devices is considered important by over a quarter of organizations. Their research also found, at that stage; 13 percent of organizations had already deployed Mobile BI projects of some description; an additional 30 percent were in the process of, or planning to, undertake a Mobile BI rollout; and a further 27 percent were planning to implement a Mobile BI project soon. So, even in June, 70 percent of respondents had already implemented, were in the process of implementing, or were actively considering Mobile BI deployments.

While the Mobile BI market segment is still emerging, the proliferation of handheld mobile devices will mean that access to BI functionality from the pockets of employees will soon become the norm.

For more detail on Mobile BI, see our Mobile BI white paper.

2.  In-memory analytics

Modern companies are striving to spread fact-based decision-making throughout their organizations. In-memory analytics enables faster analysis, rapid insights and minimal IT involvement.

In-memory databases use main memory for data storage, and can perform analysis faster than standard database systems that use disk storage, as they don’t have to perform disk I/O to update or query data.

In-memory analytics delivers business insights to enable steadfast decision-making with the agility that businesses demand. Business users have access to self-service analysis and IT departments can spend less time on query analysis, cube building, aggregate table design, and other time-consuming performance-tuning tasks.

In-memory analytics remove the need for ETL and data warehouses, leading to substantially faster query performance as compared to database-resident storage.

3.  Ease of use

As mentioned above, self-service BI is quickly becoming a priority for many businesses as the move towards organization-wide access to data reporting and analytics continues to intensify.

The term ‘self-service’ BI refers to an environment where business users of all backgrounds have the ability to easily and independently access rich and actionable business information generated from data analysis.

Key facilitators of self-service BI:

The key drivers behind the rapid uptake of self-service BI include:

  • The desire to avoid long delays associated with traditional BI and IT deployments where most end-users require expert technical support to access and interpret key decision-making information
  • The desire to free IT departments of routine and ad hoc requests for data analysis
  • The desire to lower the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) associated BI programs by reducing delays in data access through minimizing the need for expert support

Addressing these issues will result in lower operating costs, increased productivity, improved customer satisfaction ratings and a higher level of end-user satisfaction with the BI tool – in both the IT and business departments – leading to higher end-user adoption and substantial BI Return On Investment (ROI).

The complexities of traditional BI deployments drain IT resources and are often met with significant business user resistance and trepidation – non-technical personnel avoid using the reporting and analytics tool wherever possible. The result? Fewer business decisions are based on fact, the accuracy and timeliness of business decisions are severely impaired, and potential business opportunities are lost.

4.  Cloud and SaaS

Cloud Computing is dramatically changing the way businesses view their IT functions. For BI software providers, this new concept of product delivery poses many interesting challenges and opportunities, as vendors consider their approach to providing their BI solution in the form of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

The considerable benefits SaaS are in the process of reshaping the BI landscape, and those involved in the BI industry must be prepared.

In part two of our four part blog series on Cloud Computing – The benefits of Business Intelligence in The Cloud (Part 2) – we outlined the benefits of utilizing a BI tool as a SaaS deployment in The Cloud.

In brief, the benefits of BI as a SaaS application are:

  • Fast, easy and inexpensive deployment
  • No hardware and setup expenditure
  • Reliability
  • No capital expenditure (lowers entry barriers)
  • Multi-tenancy environment (do more with less)
  • Free automated software upgrades and maintenance
  • Flexibility and scalability associated with low ongoing total software costs
  • Only pay for what you use
  • Fast and easy scalability
  • Flexibility
  • Improved data sharing capabilities
  • Low risk and high reward

For a more in-depth discussion on BI as a SaaS deployment see our blog on The benefits of Business Intelligence in The Cloud (Part 2) or our Business Intelligence in The Cloud white paper.

Where to next?

Stay tuned for the second half of our list of top BI developments for 2010.

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