Yellowfin: Top Business Intelligence predictions for 2012 (Part One)

Don’t confuse continuity for laziness. On face value, rehashing events already transpired as ‘predictions’ may create the appearance of lethargy. But, it seems that many emergent themes from the 2010/11 Business Intelligence (BI) scene will dominate 2012, having now developed into significant market-shaping trends.

To reference the TDWI’s blog – “The Future that has Already Happened”, and once again draw on interplay between The Joker and Batman in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, 2012 will bear witness to a certain level of continuity, and yes, repetition:

  • “The major factors affecting BI’s future are already in play” – TDWI’s The Future that has Already Happened report
  • “I think you and I are destined to do this forever” –The Joker to Batman

See what role Batman played in our Year in review: Top 9 Business Intelligence development of 2011 discussion.

So, let the reverberation of our reiterations begin:


1. The spending spree will continue

2012 will prove another record year for investment in BI solutions, as organizations and CIOs feel the pressure to harness their data assets, and the abilities of new-age BI products, in increasingly sophisticated ways. That, and the less reasoned pressure of anxiety: Get onboard or get left behind.

BI and analytics have deposed cloud computing as top enterprise technology priority for the New Year according to a Gartner survey of 2,335 CIOs. It seems that while BI will prove a priority in 2012, the analytics market will also be caught-up in a vast increase in worldwide IT spending, with IDC predicting a 6.9 percent rise to $1.8 trillion in 2012.

Additionally, The Corporate IT Forum’s annual survey on corporate IT strategies flagged more positive developments for the BI market over the ensuing 12 months. The study, compiled via responses garnered from almost 700 IT professionals between October and November 2011, revealed a 10.7 percent rise in the number or survey participants planning to implement a BI strategy in the coming year. In addition, 45.8 percent of respondents indicated that they already have a BI strategy in place.

A new survey from consultancy firm, MorganFranklin, found that 75 percent of respondents intend to increase or maintain BI spending during 2012.

And, TechTarget’s 2012 IT Priorities Survey – which polled more than 2,600 IT professionals and business analysts in a mix of job positions – found that 50 percent of those surveyed planned on increasing BI spending by 10 percent or more over the next year.

A recent SnapLogic survey, of more than 110 CIOs, found that pursuing, expanding and implementing BI/analytics initiatives will remain the most popularly listed number one priority in 2012 (39%).

InformationWeek’s Outlook 2012 survey of 605 North American technology professionals indicated that BI would remain high on the 2012 agenda, with 60 percent of respondents stating that they consider the ability to perform timely analysis on sales and operational data as important. A further 54 percent agreed that mining customer data was important.

2. 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.

A recent research report – Location Intelligence: What can be Expected as BI embraces Location and Cloud – released in March last year by Saugatuck Technology, defines the benefit of LI in the following way: “Integration of Location (GIS) and standard BI platforms brings LI to greater usefulness by making it available as an option to anyone who is familiar with the more readily-available BI solutions, and without the need to master new concepts or a new user interface. Spatial relationships also greatly enhance many of the details commonly reported by BI systems, providing an added level of analysis that is useful in viewing and assessing trends (and existing data types).”

The ability to overlay demographic or statistical data onto a map provides an additional level of analysis, both aiding, and adding to a person’s interpretation of the data. By combining geographic data with traditional/standard business data, users are provided with the insights and context to make better decisions.

We’ve all heard about the benefits of LI in relation to marketing, sales and operations – the ability to locate customers, potential customers, manpower, infrastructure and pair that knowledge with existing data types – to streamline processes and uncover previously obscured opportunities. But, the TDWI, in their article 5 Macro Trends Shaping Next-generation BI and Analytics, shed new light on this capability: “For those who say that location intelligence is little more than a nice-to-have feature, consider this: when the U.S. Special Forces unit (i.e., Seal Team 6) entered the now-famous compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the information accuracy it gathered was literally mission critical. This operation required sifting through structured and unstructured data, then integrating it with targeted geo-spatial analytics and location intelligence. After analyzing massive quantities of data, the team was able to build an exact duplicate of Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Afghanistan to train, test, and experiment before making their actual execution flawless. Mission: accomplished.”

3. Mobile BI

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%)

The top four information access benefits sought from Mobile BI are:

  • Faster and easier executive access to information (83%)
  • Easier, self-service access to data sources (67%)
  • Right-time data for users’ roles in processes or operations (54%)
  • More frequently updated information for all users (51%)

Recent Aberdeen Group research suggests that these sought-after benefits can (and are) be realized by best-of-breed Mobile BI implementations.

The scale of growth will be profound. Many analyst firms and industry studies suggested that around 9 percent of organizations were delivering BI via mobile devices in 2008. That figure, although with some conjecture, sat at around 20 percent at the end of 2011. A recent TechTarget survey predicts that almost 50 percent of companies will have a Mobile BI solution by the end of 2012. Further evidence of this furiously accelerating trend comes from renowned Forrester Research blogger and analyst, Boris Evelson. Mobile analytics is expected to become so pervasive, that in his research report, A Practical How-To Approach to Mobile BI, Evelson states that corporations now need to “design dashboards with mobile BI in mind”.

Results from SearchBusinessAnalytics.com’s 2011 Business Intelligence Challenges and Priorities Survey also suggest a marked uptick in Mobile BI implementations. Thirty percent of the 249 survey participants said they would implement a Mobile BI program within the coming year. And again, InformationWeek’s 2012 Business Intelligence, Analytics, and Information Management Survey disclosed that 44 percent of respondents plan to add mobile analytics capabilities, via smartphones or tablets, to their data strategies this year.

Gartner goes even further, suggesting that mobile analytics will remain a foremost trend and priority until around the end of 2015: “While the rise in popularity of mobile devices and the growing comfort with browser use for enterprise applications preordains a richer mix of email clients and access mechanisms, the pace of change over the next four years will be breathtaking,” Gartner said. “Moreover, smartphones and tablets represent more than 90 percent of the new net growth in device adoption for the coming four years.” Also, more mobile application development projects will be commissioned than PC-related projects for the first time in 2012, according to Gartner.

Gatner’s Gartner Predicts 2011 report predicts that 33 percent of BI functionality will be consumed via handheld devices by 2013. Gartner’s 2012 BI Magic Quadrant survey backs that forecast: “More than 20% of survey respondents report that they are already using mobile BI or are piloting it. A whopping 33% plan to deploy mobile BI in 2012. By the end of 2012, a majority of organizations should have some mobility solutions in place”.

Tablets and iPads to dominate new Mobile BI implementations
The large form factors of tablet PCs, and the rampaging success of Applie’s iPad within business environments and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to work programs, will see a sharp increase in the number of iPad-oriented Mobile BI initiatives fulfilled throughout 2012. InformationWeek’s aforementioned Outlook 2012 report found that 31 percent of contributors agreed that tablets would become the main computing device for “select” employees – A significant shift from the 2010 version, in which 51 percent “strongly disagreed” that their organizations would give tablet PCs to even 10 percent of employees in place of a desktop or laptop.

According to the IDC, worldwide tablet shipments are set to jump from 16.1 million in 2010, to 147.2 million by 2015 – 45 million of which will be bought by businesses. More specifically, Apple sold over 32 million iPads last financial year (September 2010 – September 2011). Apple also claim that a truly astonishing 92 percent of Fortune 500 organizations will test and / or deploy iPads as part of their corporate information strategy during 2012. Dresner Advisory Services’ latest Mobile Business Intelligence Market Study also identified the iPad as the dominant platform for Mobile BI in 2012. The majority of survey participants (55 percent) listed the iPad as their first choice, or primary, deployment platform.

TechTarget’s 2012 Global IT Priorities Survey found that 34 percent of respondents plan to introduce tablets as part of their corporate IT strategies in 2012, up from 18 percent in last year’s study. Conversely, smartphone-oriented programs have simultaneously stagnated. Thirty-five percent of respondents planned to implement smartphone initiatives, compared to 34.8 percent in 2011.

Mobile BI gets collaborative
The collaborative features taking root in a number of BI platforms will be introduced to the native mobile apps offered by those vendors in 2012.

Where to next?

Join us again soon, as we gaze ever deeper into our crystal ball of prophecy and prognostication, and pronounce our next set of predictions for BI 2012 in Yellowfin: Top Business Intelligence predictions for 2012 (Part Two).