Last year was another busy one for business intelligence (BI). After the previous year's slew of acquisitions, 2008 saw the mega-vendors integrate their new BI technologies, while operational and on-demand BI saw gains in adoption. What does 2009 hold in store for BI? Three industry watchers share their 2009 BI forecasts.
Director of research and services for The Data Warehousing Institute.
- Analytic database platforms go mainstream. Netezza awakened the data warehousing world in 2003 when it introduced the first data warehouse appliance (unless you consider Teradata as the first appliance). In 2009, a tidal wave of companies will invest in the tidal wave of new analytic database products (more than 20 to date). At their core, the platforms employ massively parallel processing (MPP) databases and servers, creating game-changing technology that dramatically improves performance and lowers total cost of ownership. That's a great combo in a down economy!
- Open source BI gets evaluated. To date, open source BI products -- such as JasperSoft and Pentaho -- have been used by third-party software vendors as embedded modules. In 2009, organizations driven by the need to cut costs and make room in the BI budget for new investments will investigate open source BI as a replacement for existing tools. Although open source BI tools are still playing catch-up with the big boys, they'll win a greater portion of deals in 2009.
- Packaged analytic applications gain traction. Oracle says it sold more than $100 million of packaged analytic applications in 2008 and now has sales teams fighting to claim those quotas. And what's not to like? Faster deployment, closed-loop processing, one throat to choke, and model-driven change management. Oracle has the biggest, most complete set of analytic applications, followed by SAP, SAS, and Teradata. Cognos has the most flexible packages.
- Software as a Service (SaaS) picks up in the midmarket. The only bump in the road for packaged analytic applications is on-demand packaged analytic applications. SaaS is perfect for midmarket companies or small departments in larger companies that don't have IT resources or don't want them. SaaS BI applications from LucidEra, PivotLink, Xactly Analytics, Autometrics, Oco, and Business Objects, as well as on-demand modules on Salesforce.com's Application Exchange, will find traction in 2009.
- Next-generation dashboards emerge. First-generation dashboards provide a graphical view of performance against goals and the ability to drill into detail to analyze root causes. In 2009, we will start to see more flexible dashboards that let users model and simulate reality using historical data, collaborate more closely with others, and close the loop between decisions and actions. Cool.
- Analytical literacy improves. We're finding out that it's not enough to give users rich graphs, tables, and dashboards. If they don't know how to interpret the data or what actions to take, the information is useless. Expect a greater push in 2009 by vendors to help customers improve analytical literacy through built-in guided analytics features and traditional training classes.
- More analytical sandboxes come to the fore. Many companies have roped off a set of tables in a data warehouse for analysts to play, but expect this trend to accelerate in 2009. Improved workload management capabilities from Teradata and other vendors make it easier to create analytical sandboxes that minimize the spread of renegade spreadmarts and data marts and deliver more value-added insights for less money and at a faster pace.
- BI goes green. Although many of the early efforts for green BI pertain to hardware vendors reducing energy consumption, expect solutions from software vendors to hit the market that allow companies to analyze their emissions and sustainability efforts. Some BI vendors are providing support to help companies comply with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), an Amsterdam-based, nonprofit organization that publishes a framework for reporting on environmental sustainability and social responsibility.
- Advanced visualization corrals BI. Specialty visualization vendors, such as Tableau Software, QlikTech, Advizor Solutions, and Spotfire will see heightened demand in 2009 as organizations understand that they need to give power users more robust tools to spot anomalies, outliers and hidden trends. Some BI platform vendors have also begun to make great strides in this area through acquisition (e.g., Business Objects acquiring Inxight) or internal development using Adobe development environments (e.g., MicroStrategy dashboards).
- Event-driven analytic platforms hit the scene. There are many analytic applications that require real-time monitoring and process execution, such as Wall Street trading systems, e-commerce recommendation engines, fraud detection, online credit analysis, and so on. To date, organizations have custom-built these applications, but an emerging class of products that we call event-driven analytic platforms and others call business activity monitoring (BAM) or complex event processing (CEP) deliver these capabilities out of the box. Why rearchitect your data warehouse for operational tasks when you can implement products from SeeWhy, Coral8, Altosoft, or Celequest (now Cognos Now!)?
James G. Kobielus
Senior analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research covering BI and data warehousing.
- BI moves into the cloud. Enterprises of all sizes will adopt hosted, subscription-based services in greater numbers to supplement or, in increasing numbers, replace their premises-based BI platforms. In a soft economy, any on-demand pay-as-you-go offering becomes more attractive across all customer segments. Just as important, the increasing scalability, performance, flexibility, and availability demands on the enterprise BI infrastructure are spurring many users to consider outsourced offerings.
- BI adopting Web 2.0 development paradigm. Mashups will move into mainstream BI practice as budget-stressed organizations push more development to users through self-service tools. The chief enablers for this new paradigm are the growing range of commercial, in-memory, BI-integrated mashup tools that let power users develop rich reports, dashboards, and analytic applications on the fly from within their browsers and spreadsheets. Data modelers and other traditional BI developers will supervise governance of user-generated BI mashups.
- BI growing more federated. Enterprises will turn to federated data environments to support operational BI across stubbornly decentralized information silos that are scattered throughout their service-oriented architectures (SOAs). To respond to this growing requirement, IT organizations will supplement their enterprise data warehouses by beefing up their enterprise information integration middleware and semantic virtualization layers.
- BI evolving into advanced analytic applications. Enterprises have substantially completed their adoption of core BI, enterprise data warehouse, and enterprise content management platforms and will increasingly turn to powerful predictive analytics, data mining, statistical analysis, and text analytics tools to leverage that information for business optimization. One consequence of this trend will be the growing adoption of in-database analytics techniques, under which users will process these compute- and data-intensive functions inside the enterprise data warehouses, taking advantage of that platform's massive parallel processing.
Various Gartner Inc. analysts covering BI, including Bill Hostmann, Kurt Schlegel, Mark A. Beyer, Rita L. Sallam, Bill Gassman, Nigel Rayner, Neil McMurchy, Neil Chandler, Matthew W. Cain.
- By 2012, business units will control at least 40% of the total budget for BI. Business units drive analysis and performance management initiatives today. Mainly, they use spreadsheets that create dashboards full of metrics and are turning to analytic applications and packaged business applications to automate the process. BI vendors already offer packaged analytic applications targeting specific functions, such as finance or marketing, but they are often not the choice of business users. As a result, business units will increase spending on packaged analytic applications, including corporate performance management (CPM), online marketing analytics and predictive analytics that optimize processes, not just report on them. By making these purchases outside of the influence of the IT organization, business units risk creating silos of applications and information, which will limit cross-function analysis. This adds complexity and delay to corporate planning and execution of changes.
- Through 2012, more than 35% of the top 5,000 global companies will regularly fail to make insightful decisions about significant changes in their business and markets. The economic downturn forces every enterprise to stay abreast of dramatic changes in their business and to re-think their strategies and operating plans. In addition, the global financial crisis leads business stakeholders and governments to demand greater transparency about company finances, operations, decisions and core performance metrics. However, most organizations find they do not have the information, processes and tools their managers need in order to make informed, responsive decisions. Too many enterprises under-invest in their information infrastructure and business users' tools.
- By 2010, 20% of organizations will have an industry-specific analytic application delivered via SaaS as a standard component of their BI portfolio. This trend has two implications. First, it will shift the balance of power in the $5 billion BI platform market. As SaaS infrastructure and BI capabilities will be easily commoditized, information aggregators will emerge as major powerbrokers. Second, the emergence of these offerings makes industry-wide BI possible. Information aggregators collect granular data from numerous competitors in the same industry and store that information in an SaaS data warehouse with a single data model. As a result, they can calculate industry-wide performance measures consistently.
- In 2009, collaborative decision making will emerge as a new product category that combines social software with BI platform capabilities. The emergence of social software such as Facebook, MySpace and Delicious presents an opportunity for savvy IT leaders to exploit the groundswell of interest in informal collaboration. Instead of promoting a formal, top-down decision-making initiative, these IT leaders will tap people's natural inclination to use social software to collaborate and make decisions. If collaborative decision making takes off, social network analysis can track who is making decisions in the organization and how. Social network analysis would show the value of BI by tying the dimensions and measures to decisions made in the company. It would also create a powerful archive that would enable a forensic approach to audit decisions to understand how decisions are made in the company.
- By 2012, one-third of analytic applications applied to business processes will be delivered through large-grained application mashups. Enterprises should not trust their mega-vendor to solve all their integration problems. At the same time, business units do not care about grand visions for SOA, such as assembling composite applications by weaving together fine-grained services. Out-of-the-box integration of business process management and BI has not yet materialized. Large-grained (typically referred to as coarse-grained) application mashups provide a more cost-effective way to embed analytics into the business process without a major re-architecture of the applications.
What do you think the future holds for BI? Send us your BI predictions, and let us know what you'd like to see covered in 2009 on SearchDataManagement.com.