Top 5 Trends in Business Intelligence

Updated: May 12, 2010

According to the 2010 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligent Platforms, Gartner expects the market for BI platforms to stay among the fastest growing software markets. "In tough economic times, when competitiveness depends on the optimization of strategy and execution, organizations continue to turn to BI as a vital tool for smarter, more agile and efficient business."

Experts, including Gartner, the Data Warehousing Institute, and Forrester Research, agree that BI is ripe for innovation -- and will evolve to deliver even greater business value. The top five trends for 2010 are:

1. Business intelligence goes open source. When open source software is sound and supported by a vibrant community, it can be an excellent low-cost option. Open source BI software has made that leap, becoming a deployment option that appeals to mid-size companies in a variety of industries as well as to public sector organizations. In fact, Gartner predicts that "open source BI tool production deployments will grow five-fold through 2012."

According to Gartner, open source BI doesn't yet have the same level of functionality as commercial offerings and is more likely to be deployed as individual tools, rather than as an enterprise-wide BI standard. Open source BI isn't free -- support costs must always be factored in -- but it can allow an IT department to experiment with the technologies without making a multi-million dollar investment.

2. Business intelligence moves to the cloud. Not everyone has the development expertise to devote to open source software, yet many companies still want a lower-cost alternative to premises-based BI software. Research by the Data Warehousing Institute, HP, and Forrester show that organizations are increasingly interested in cloud computing for BI. With BI running in the cloud, organizations can pay just for the capacity they need, when they need it. Also, it gives companies access to complex, sophisticated BI technologies without having to pay for in-house BI expertise.

James G. Kobelius, senior analyst at Forrester Research, expects that data warehouses in particular to be deployed in cloud environments in 2010. In January, he told, "In 2010, we'll see vendors continue to introduce cloud, SaaS, and virtualized deployments of their core analytic databases. The industry is moving inevitably toward cloud-based services that supplement appliances, licensed software and other deployment options."

3. User interfaces become more graphical and business-user friendly. Traditionally, BI software has generated complex reports that can be difficult to read. Newer BI solutions now offer far more interactive and graphical user interfaces, which feel more like consumer-application UIs. These make BI much easier to use and helps keep the data analysis results accessible to a wide variety of business users.

4. Advanced analytics are more widely deployed. "Advanced analytics is the critical enabler in turning data into insight," reports HP's Top 10 trends in Business Intelligence for 2010 white paper. Forrester's Kobelius believes organizations will use advanced analytics to find ways to reach customers via social networks, saying this year will be "the year social network analysis truly emerges as the new frontier in advanced analytics, supporting mining of behavioral, attitudinal, and other affinities."

5. Pure-play BI vendors get more traction in the market. The enterprise software "megavendors" like Oracle, IBM, and HP aren't the only ones offering viable enterprise BI platforms anymore. Smaller vendors, such as that focus solely on BI are gaining ground in the BI market. According to Gartner, "There is significant, if not euphoric, satisfaction with, and accelerated interest in, pure-play BI platforms. This is particularly true for smaller, innovative vendors filling needs left unmet by the larger vendors."

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