BI & Analytic Trends for Business Value

January 29, 2015
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Business_valueAs mentioned in my post BI & Analytic Trends of 2015 – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Business_valueAs mentioned in my post BI & Analytic Trends of 2015 – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, while the hyped industry trends get all the attention, there are many lesser-known trends that are have a significant impact on expanding the use and value of data and analytics.

Although technology often gets the credit for BI success (especially from vendors) these lesser-known trends are being driven by people, process and politics. In particular, I see momentum coming from business and IT professionals who are changing processes, dealing with politics and leveraging products based on industry best practices and more sophisticated knowledge of the BI industry.

When examining trends it is important to differentiate the cause or effect of change. Often the trends discussed are really the result of some underlying changes. These causal factors need to be explored to understand industry dynamics.

Key business value trends I want to highlight include:

1)   Operation BI becomes more sophisticated

2)   Storyboarding becomes best practice for BI design

3)   Embedded BI within business processes explodes

4)   In-memory, columnar becomes BI’s preferred destination

5)   Spreadsheets become accepted part of BI Portfolio

6)   Use of external data continues to expand

7)   BI applications created faster for business people

8)   BI expands into small and midmarket enterprises

9)   Data blending and wrangling come out of shadows

I’ll discuss the first one below, and others in subsequent blog posts:

1)  Operation BI becomes more sophisticated

Enterprise applications have always bundled operational BI capabilities, but those have been heavily skewed towards pre-built dashboards and reports focused on status reporting and data validation. In addition, historically the established enterprise application vendors built their own BI tools that were not considered on par with those of specialized BI tool vendors. Seven years ago that changed when the top two enterprise application vendors bought the top two BI tool vendors and then proceeded to replace their own offerings with newly-acquired the BI tools.

The rest of the enterprise application vendors got the message “if you can’t beat them join them.” Most of the remaining enterprise application vendors have, by now, leveraged products from the BI tool specialists and have replaced their homegrown reporting tools. The BI tools used are either from partnerships with the more recognizable BI vendor names or an embedded BI tool approach where the BI vendor may not even be identified. The embedded approach is similar to the private label product strategy many grocery chains use – good quality and value without the cost of the expensive brand. Embedded BI tools are either open source software or from less recognizable BI vendors who have oriented their tools to work in this environment.

The first-generation of BI applications created by the enterprise application vendors after partnering with or acquiring BI tool specialists is typically a migration of previously offered pre-built dashboards and reports. This approach certainly doesn’t leverage BI tool capabilities or offer the type of analytics demanded by business today. Business needs and expectations are pressuring enterprise application vendors who offer their first generation of operational BI application to rethink and significantly revise their BI capabilities.

The first wave of enterprise application vendors have expanded the depth and breadth of their first generation BI applications and are already offering sophisticated operational BI applications. Subsequent waves of enterprise application vendors are following the same course and this trend will accelerate.

(See Chapter 1, The Business Demand for Data, Information and Analytics in my new book The Business Intelligence Guidebook – From Data Integration to Analytics for a discussion on the roles of operational and BI systems.)