Top 14 Business Intelligence predictions for 2012

30 Min Read

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.

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’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.


 4. SaaS: BI in the Cloud spurs SMB adoption

A recent Gartner report suggested that cloud-based BI is being adopted at a slow, ‘steady as she goes’ pace, accounting for only three percent of BI revenue by 2013. Whilst this prediction puts much of the hype into perspective, we believe the Software as a Service (SaaS) BI market will experience stronger growth given the potentially lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for small to midsized businesses (SMBs).

TechTarget’s 2012 IT Priorities Survey – which polled more than 2,600 IT professionals and business analysts – found that a growing number of enterprises plan to increase their expenditures for cloud services over the next year.

IDC research indicates that the SaaS BI market has and will experience triple the growth of the overall market, expanding at a compound annual growth rate of 22.4 percent through to 2013.

Another recent survey of 500 US based IT end-user clients by non-profit trade association, CompTIA, reflected those predictions, with almost 75 percent of respondents saying they intended to increase spending on Cloud programs.

Additionally, global SMB ICT market research and industry analyst organization, Techaisle, revealed that cloud BI usage is expected to jump in the next year, with 47 percent of respondents planning to shift from spreadsheets to cloud – a jump of 59 percent from 2011. The study found that 22 percent of SMBs are currently using BI, another 27 percent plan to implement in the coming year, and that cloud-based BI is the top BI area of planned investment for 2012 amongst SMBs.

InformationWeek’s 2012 BI and Information Management Trends Report further underlines the appeal of SaaS-based BI for SMBs, with respondents listing “low overall cost” (55 %) and “low initial cost” (39 %) as two of the biggest attractors.

5. Big Data

Despite Big Data rating highly on Gartner’s latest “Hype Cycle” – it’s not all puffery. Big Data will continue to receive significant market place attention in 2012, as vendors and analysts scramble to meet and dissect emerging market demand. But why has Big Data become a hot topic? The answer seems to be two-fold – and fairly simple. Firstly, new, affordably priced, products and services have emerged to give organizations the capability and capacity to capture more information than ever before. A recent TDWI article – 5 Macro Trends Shaping Next-generation BI and Analytics – provides an extremely relevant example of how such developments have changed corporate data collation approaches and mindsets: “suppose you run a manufacturing company that produces baby bottles. In 2001, you probably focused on just two data points: how many bottles your plants produced and how much money you made from that production. Today, however, you’re likely to track how many bottles you manufacture and how much money you make as well as how satisfied your customers are, what percentage are repeat customers, and what people are saying about your bottles on social networks.”

This has been simultaneously meet with the expansion of existing data types and sources, and the creation of new ones. The emergence and continuing proliferation of a multitude of notable social media platforms has created vast amounts of potential customer data. Data which is just waiting to be mined and explored! For example, Facebook now has over 800 million users whose details, preferences and interactions are available for analysis.

A recent Gartner study puts the propagation of available data into perspective, stating that the volume of data generated in 2009 alone was greater than in the preceding 5,000 years combined. IDC predicts that digital content volume will balloon by 2.7 zettabytes in 2012 – a 48 percent boost from 2011. Gartner expects global enterprise data assets to grow by around an additional 650 percent by the end of 2014.

6. Ease-of-use will continue to be the number one BI priority

Players from both side of the proverbial fence in the BI marketplace will work hard to consolidate the most notable and overarching trend to affect the software segment since its inception – ease-of-use. Why? Because organizations have realized the value in equipping non-technical employees and business areas outside IT with ‘self-serve’ reporting and analytics and, naturally, vendors are-all-too-keen to tap into that vastly expanded potential customer base.

Gartner’s 2011 and 2012 BI Magic Quadrant surveys report “ease-of-use” as the new number one purchase consideration for BI platforms. New Ventana benchmark research on business analytics elicited a similar response from participants, with 89 percent expressing a desire for simpler analytics. Like Gartner, Ventana’s “Value Index” also lists product usability (57%) as the most important evaluation criteria, according to end-users, for product assessment.

Again, InformationWeek’s 2012 BI and Information Management Trends Report – an October 2011 survey of 542 business technology professionals – found that lack of usability is the most common barrier to BI adoption. Forty-five percent of respondents cited “ease-of-use challenges with complex software/less technically savvy employees” when presented with 15 possible responses to the question “what are the barriers to adopting BI products enterprise-wide?”. But ease-of-use doesn’t merely relate to product usability. Sixty-three percent of respondents to the same Information Management survey listed “ease of implementation” as their first choice when asked to identify “the most important features to look for when purchasing a BI product or selecting [a] vendor”. The bottom line? It just has to be easy.

7. The consumerization of BI drives greater adoption and BI ROI

The continued consumerization of BI – the inclusion and development of user-friendly features and functionality making reporting and analytics accessible to a wider array of users – will generate more widespread user adoption and better BI Return on Investment (ROI). Gartner’s June 2011 report – The Consumerization of BI Drives Greater Adoption – stated that the consumerization of BI had resulted in a new bread of end-user focused BI solutions, capable of delivering faster, more relevant results to business people of all backgrounds, and a better ROI. The report also suggested that this trend marks “arguably the biggest shift in BI adoption since the rise of enterprise-class BI platforms in the late 1990s”.

Studies from the TDWI and BeyeNetwork have also demonstrated the link between pervasive BI and superior ROI for BI initiatives. The TDWI research report – How Pervasive BI is Good for Your Business and How to Get There – states that the number of active users is one of the best performance indicators for any BI implementation. The study concludes by suggesting that BI adoption and usage rates remain low because most BI products are still geared towards analysts and power users. It’s now utterly undeniable – the consumerization of BI, the widespread deployments and high levels of user adoption that follow, have considerable positive business impacts. BI projects and technology that target the report consumer – is “good for your business”. The BeyeNetwork’s research report, Ease of Use and Interface Appeal in Business Intelligence Tools, also directly links BI adoption to ease-of-use and BI ROI.

8. More pervasive BI leads to changes in BI governance and usership

We know that business users are having a greater say when purchasing a BI solution, but how are usership figures changing in accordance? As evidence that BI is becoming more pervasive and end-user oriented, Gartner’s latest BI Magic Quadrant survey and Dresner Advisory Services’ (DAS) 2011 Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study demonstrated an increasing percentage of business (non IT) people utilizing BI software. Of the 1,364 respondents to Gartner’s 2012 BI Magic Quadrant survey, only 38.9 percent identified themselves as pure “IT”, with 20.8 percent listing themselves as a “business user”, while 40.3 percent said they had “blended business and IT responsibilities”. DAS’ 2011 Wisdom of Crowds survey also noted that business users are increasingly dominating BI adoption and usage. IT users comprised 50 percent of the overall survey sample, compared to 61 percent in 2010.

“Business users appear to be increasingly driving BI adoption. We believe that the trend towards business-dominated BI is a global trend, with other geographies lagging behind North America by several years,” wrote report author and former Gartner research fellow, Howard Dresner.

Evocative Forrester Research blogger, Boris Evelson, wrote in a recent blog post that “More BI will move into the hands of end users” and that “IT will learn not to fight it or risk becoming irrelevant. It’s all about getting things done.”

In further evidence that BI governance, as well as usership, is increasingly moving into the hands of business (non IT) departments, Gartner predicts up to 35 percent of enterprise IT expenditures will be managed outside of the IT department’s budget by 2015.

“The defined role of IT is changing from a mission of guarding the data to one of preparing the data for actionable business decisions. In 2012, this trend will continue and accelerate,” noted Gartner analyst Daryl Plummer.

9. “Enterprises are going to have to ‘live with’ multiple BI tools”

As indicated by Gartner’s 2012 BI Magic Quadrant survey and Dresner’s Wisdom of Crowds study results, enterprises are going to have to deal with a multitude of BI solutions. This multiple solution environment is a product of business user demand for easy-to-use “flexible products that put analytic power into their own hands”, and IT’s demand for deep analytical functionality – of course we believe that Yellowfin satisfies both criteria.

“This has further accentuated the need for IT organizations to back away from a single-minded pursuit of standardization on one vendor to a more pragmatic portfolio approach,” wrote Gartner Magic Quadrant report authors, John Hagerty, Rita L. Sallam and James Richardson.

The 2012 BI platform Magic Quardrant survey showed that “ease of use” has carried over from 2011 as the new number one priority for business users when selecting a BI product (52%). However, respondents identifying themselves as IT ranked “functionality” as their number one purchase criteria.

“’Data discovery’ [or end-user oriented] alternatives to enterprise BI platforms offer highly interactive and graphical user interfaces built on in-memory architectures to address business users’ unmet ease-of-use and rapid deployment needs,” stated the report. “Sales results for vendors in this sector have been stellar and well above the market average.”

The drive for ‘data discovery’ tools by business users will see enterprises harbor an increasing number of BI solutions.

10. The rise of independent information gatherers

2012 will see the rise of the independent information gatherer. Business users wont just be able to access part of a BI tool’s functionality by themselves. In 2012, they will be able to create, modify reports and interpret that intelligence independently. This trend represents more than simply finding the answers via self-service BI – It represents true independent data exploration.

11. An analytics talent shortage

As reporting and analytics is applied to many more business functions, an increasing number of job types will require a working knowledge of analytics, which in turn, will lead to a skills shortfall. A 2011 research report by McKinsey Global Institute predicted that by 2018, the US job market would experience a shortage of around “1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions.”

12. In-memory capabilities will grow in importance

Demand for real-time insights, shrinking business timeliness and an increasingly competitive global marketplace is placing increasing pressure on acceptable query speeds. As such, in-memory capabilities will grow in importance as organizations demand answers to critical business questions at Google-like speed.

13. Collaborative BI will experience notable marketplace penetration

Collaborative or Social BI – the integration of information sharing features and functionality of popular Web 2.0 technologies and social media platforms within a BI platform – will experience steady uptake and significant interest in 2012. Interest and uptake will intensify as organizations realize the ability of in-built collaborative decision-making (CDM) modules to bridge the gap between insight and action – producing better, faster decisions and stronger ROI for BI projects.

Gartner predicts that by 2013, 15 percent of BI deployments will combine traditional BI and collaboration components in a singular decision-making environment.

14. More software solution providers will take advantage of embedded BI

BI is a rapidly growing industry. Organizations from all backgrounds are turning to BI to streamline operational efficiencies and increase competitive advantage by placing better, faster fact-based information in the hands of more decision-makers. The proliferation of BI means that clients of a wide range of enterprise software solutions now expect reporting and analytics functionality as a standard checklist item in their existing enterprise software package.

For more on the benefits of an embedded reporting solution, check out this SlideShare presentation:

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