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The key trends that I think will dominate the BI industry in 2018
There are five key trends in the BI industry that I believe we’ll see take centre stage in 2018.
These trends are being driven by several factors including the huge investments that have been made in AI, governance issues that have been associated with desktop analytic products, the increasing push toward enterprise products and the growing demand to leverage big data in all industries.
These are all big factors that are creating a push towards more innovation in the sector and, in some cases, a slight feeling of deja vu.
01. Augmented analytics packaged up as AI will make us smarter
Recently, huge investments have been made in artificial intelligence (AI). A lot of funding has gone into this space and it’s now starting to trickle through, but it will soon become a flood. As result, in the coming years we will see a lot of augmented analytics and smart data discovery in particular – from the data preparation level all the way through to analysis and data science.
There is already a lot of heat in the market – every vendor is looking at how they can augment their own products with smart analytics. This is creating some confusion amongst customers because solutions are being packaged up and labelled as AI when it’s really just artificial marketing.
Artificial marketing aside, there is a real opportunity to leverage machine learning to understand and speed up the analytical process. Many customers already have the dashboards and reports they need, but augmented analytics and smart data discovery will allow them to focus on why things are happening now and in the future.
There are many startup vendors who are doing a phenomenal job in this space. They’ve thought the problem through but just don’t have the scale or the product sophistication to deliver an enterprise ready solution just yet.
Augmented analytics is at the top of the hype cycle right now, so it’s still early days. Because the scope is also so broad – including everything from data preparation and data science to natural language search and generation – there’s a lot of testing that needs to occur. Only time will tell what features will gain traction with customers, for example, is voice search really viable?
02. Desktop is finished, now it’s all about enterprise
Desktop analytics have had their day and vendors will be pushing up into the enterprise space over the coming year. This trend has been brewing for a while and it’s driven by a shift from pure data visualization to looking at how we can deliver and share insights across an entire business.
While many of the market leading vendors are already trying to bend their product to force fit it into an enterprise model, they are struggling. That’s because the real flaw is in their architecture – their products were designed for desktop.
But new vendors in this space are enterprise first – they’re web deployed and scalable. They are poised to build and deliver a product for enterprise much faster than the traditional toolsets. In 2018, we will see these enterprise first solutions taking the lead in scalability, efficiency and flexibility.
03. Governance will drive deployments
This shift towards enterprise analytics also has a profound impact on governance. That’s because the push to enterprise is being driven by organizations who need better governance of their analytic deployments.
Enterprises have now come full-circle. Originally, there was a big push for desktop solutions so business users could do their own analytics (but that comes with its own set of risks). Ecosystems were then developed so that the desktop tools could manage governance. Third-party products like data catalogues were purchased to manage governance and held together with sticky tape. That’s why companies like Tableau and Qlik came about, they saw an opportunity to grow their share of wallet by providing enterprises with this type of functionality.
Organizations now understand the governance and privacy risks of desktop solutions and they want to control this at some level with a centralized mechanism. But they also want to enable decentralized analytics to still take place. That’s why we’re now seeing more emphasis on governance and control.
04. We’re all going back to being full stack vendors
The industry really is coming full-circle in 2018 in several ways. Aside from the shift away from desktop solutions, many are also going back to being full stack vendors with the push to enterprise.
This makes sense for customers and is already happening in the data preparation space. If customers have to buy an additional product every time they want to do something new it starts to grind with them. Bigger vendors are trying to address this concern and own the whole customer relationship by building a full stack.
They are also being pushed along by the analyst firms who are starting to tell enterprises to look for vendors with a full stack solution to solve their governance and deployment issues. Just take a look at Gartner’s definition of a modern BI platform and you can see that it’s already starting to occur. They’ve added more components to what a BI platform is and this is likely to continue to broaden.
Looking at the roadmaps of major vendors, many are already set to deliver this full stack. In this context, it will be interesting to see how they deliver the product set, who they will displace and what share of wallet they will gain for those products. It will also be interesting to see how they price the additional functionality and what the total cost of ownership will be for a customer.
To drive growth and revenue these large BI vendors will need to increase average deal sizes, which opens up the opportunity for displacement. Prices will go up, but if they price too high they may push themselves out of the market and create an opportunity for disruption.
New vendors, like Yellowfin and Looker, who already provide an enterprise stack and have the governance tools that enterprise needs, are ready to pounce. This is very similar to what happened to Business Objects> and Cognos,and now we may see the cycle repeat with Tableau and Qlik.
05. Analytics will become embedded into products
The final trend I see in 2018 is that every software vendor will be looking to embed analytics into their product (if they haven’t already). All software businesses are increasingly becoming data centric businesses. Businesses now have access to an unprecedented amount of data and they are now looking for a way to capitalize on it.
This has been building for a while and now software vendors don’t really have a choice. If you’re not competing on analytics then you might as well shut your business down because that’s where all the big vendors are focusing their attention in an attempt to win future customers.
Large vendors, like Salesforce.com are already investing heavily in analytics. From a transactional CRM perspective their product is done, it’s configurable and integrated. Now they’re focussing on putting analytics in other products. It’s exciting because it shows other vendors what they need to do to compete in the future. They want to offer their customers the most sophisticated analytics possible on their core products.
From where I sit, 2018 is already shaping up to be a huge year for the BI industry. It will be fascinating to see how these trends unfold. I’m excited to be part of it.