7 Key Business Intelligence Trends for 2012

2012 is shaping up to be another big year, with Gartner citing that its survey of over 2,300 CIO’s worldwide ranked BI and analytics as their top technology priority for this year.  So here’s Inside Info’s take on the latest trends based on what the analysts are saying.

1.    Less Technology, More Business & Decision Support

The emphasis has moved very clearly to business value – emphasising the ‘why’ rather than the ‘how’ – analytics has to support business decision making and result in business innovation.  Most BI platforms are deployed as systems of performance measurement, not for decision support. According to Gartner this is changing as organisations are recognising that analytic capabilities are just one important piece of the decision process. User-designed scenarios/models simulate possible performance outcomes and contributors iterate on the model until there is consensus on the best decision to take. Some are beginning to automate repeatable, operation decisions in analytic applications and implement collaborative decision-making platforms around analytic capabilities to improve the quality and transparency of tactical and strategic decisions where collaboration between decision makers is critical to the outcome.

2.    Get Your BI Basics Right

There’s definitely a need to ‘get the BI basics’ right before buying into the next big thing.  Too often, most mid market and enterprise organisations are still struggling with the ability to deliver timely information to teams when they need it, in a form they can easily use and interpret.  Typically a small number of power users get what they need and are happy  – everyone else has to fend for themselves with standard reports or lots of data manipulation. In fact, the 2012 BI & Information Management Survey by Information Week found that for businesses that had adopted a BI tool, only 25% of employees in those businesses had access to that tool. Certainly in some respects, traditional BI tools have been too bulky and technical for that other 75% of employees to use, rather than being a case of not needing that information.

Often cost and time to deploy a new BI project is price prohibitive to the business – so doesn’t happen.  Be mindful of this as BI Survey 10, cites slow and late BI implementations as one of the biggest problems facing BI success. Evidence shows that the longer you take to implement your BI solution, the more difficult it is to achieve positive business benefits. ‘Agile BI’ is key. Minimal support required, promising faster, better results.

3.    Data Discovery Momentum Continues to Increase

Gartner continues to see users exerting significant influence over BI decisions and choosing user-driven BI tools known as ‘Data Discovery’ tools.  These enterprise BI platforms, of which QlikView is considered at the forefront, are alternatives to traditional BI platforms, characterised by rich data visualizations, typically in-memory capability with simple point & click analysis, that can deliver value fast.  In fact when businesses were asked the question by Information Week about what was needed in a BI tool, ‘easy to use’, ‘easy to deploy’, ‘affordability’ (Microsoft often wins on this front) and ‘easy to administer’ (self-service BI) were the top criteria. The consideration for IT is how to keep users happy with these type of tools, without creating a fragmented ‘siloed’ information environment.

4.    In-memory BI

In-memory technology continued to take centre stage in 2011, with its ability to provide speed-of-thought analysis on ever-increasing amounts of data. By 2014, 30% of analytic applications will use in-memory functions to add scale and computational speed according to Gartner. There is a direct correlation between fast query performance and project success, depending on how long it takes users to get the answers they’re after.  By 2014, 30% of analytic applications will use proactive, predictive and forecasting capabilities. Gartner calls ‘In-Memory’ BI a ‘strategic imperative’ and advises that organisations should look at in-memory as a ‘quantum leap in their computing strategy because “dramatically faster data access can profoundly change the nature of some applications.” QlikView is the pioneer of the in-memory BI space and continues to shine as the Leader in this area in the Gartner 2012 BI Platforms Magic Quadrant.

5.    Collaboration

According to Gartner, by 2013, 15% of BI deployments will combine BI, collaboration and social software into decision-making environments. Organisations are starting to more proactively manage, capture and optimise decision processes and outcomes to improve performance beyond the decision inputs such as BI. Collaborative decision environments will drive investment in new BI and analytic applications, particularly those that link with collaboration and social networking functions. The value of collaborative decision making can then be demonstrated by focusing on departmental, line-of-business or process-specific decisions such as forecasting.

BI in the cloud is still something for the future for most businesses.  For many, only when underlying operational systems are themselves running in the cloud.

6.    A Fit-For-Purpose Approach to BI Works Better

According to Gartner, operational or tactical business intelligence (BI) is growing. Businesses are seeing the benefits of using BI tools to solve a specific need or problem, proving value and then expanding its use from there, rather than jumping in head first. IT vendor and standards should not be more important than the user needs and supporting the business user.  BI Survey 10 says evidence shows a strong correlation between product suitability & achieving business benefits.  Companies that buy BI tools for their features & best-fit rather than ‘standards’ or ‘price’ send a clear message that the product is worth having.

7.    Mobile Business Intelligence

Mobile BI is now a given in this market. Gartner believe that by 2013 33% of all BI usage will be on a mobile device. More than 20% of Gartner’s survey respondents report that they are already using mobile BI or are piloting it. A whopping 33% plan to deploy mobile BI in 2012. Businesses should recognise that users will want to use mobile devices to access corporate BI data. They also need to ensure that the current BI infrastructure supports these demands while promoting the use of tablets to improve the BI experience of the mobile workforce.