Business Intelligence – A Look Back and A Look Forward

Although there has been growth in the business intelligence market, 2013 is described by BI Scorecard Founder Cindi Howson as not the best, that was in the mid-90s when the BI market was growing at 40% per year. She however goes on to say it was not the worse either, for that was 2008 when it limped along at 2% a year.

It has been a varied year with the giants only growing a little and the “upstarts” doing much better. As she writes in her Information Week commentary Howson points to “A look at vendor revenues and product releases in 2013 reveals a tale of two worlds: the large BI-platform vendors and the nimbler visual-data-discovery vendors. For the most part, large BI vendors showed flat or low-single-digit revenue growth while companies such as Tableau (75%), TIBCO Spotfire (30%), and QlikTech (23%) have all shown strong, double-digit growth through the first three quarters of 2013.”

Why are the smaller vendors growing so fast? Howson believes it’s “agility”. “In the now-normal frenetic pace of business, users can no longer wait for that perfectly architected, IT-sanctioned reports or carefully modeled business queries. They need to mash together new and broader data sources, whether from the cloud, a partner, a supplier, or Twitter.”

Information Week Executive Editor Doug Henschen takes this one step further and the 2014 Information Week Analytics, Business Intelligence, and Information Management Survey he says clearly favors vendors who have focused on “ease of use”.

He states that, when asking what is getting the most attention, “The biggest gainer in current or planned use compared to last year’s results was Tableau Software while the biggest slides were seen by Actuate, IBM Cognos, and MicroStrategy.” He adds, “As in past years, survey respondents were qualified as being involved in determining the need, recommending, specifying, or authorizing or approving the purchase of data analytics, business intelligence, or statistical analysis software.”

Of the 248 qualified respondents, 13% say they’re using and 6% say they’re planning to use Tableau Software (see chart below), a vendor known for data-visualization software that has a reputation for being easy to use. That’s a 5-point overall increase from our 2013 survey, in which 8% of 417 respondents said they were using and 4% said they were planning to use Tableau.

A great deal of the renewed interest in BI is due in part to the advent of “Big Data”, although the term simply describes the now vast amount of data that continues to be uploaded to the Internet. When companies are looking at even the data on hand they are understanding that the ability to better analyse that data has not become a critical mission. Because there is so much data it is important that the effort to “mine it” is very focused on specific business or business intelligence needs. BI is most successful with solid database design, an understanding of business analysis needs (forecasting, marketing, new product development etc.), and a very precise short and long term implementation plan that ensures your BI results add value to your organization.

Many companies find themselves unable to afford or in some cases simply do not have access to experts that adequately cover all of the knowledge to plan, develop, and implement these platforms. To meet these challenges it is wise to turn to companies who provide this level of expertise and aid you in the many tasks you’ll need to perform to implement or upgrade a BI platform. Outsourcing like this allows companies to simply supplement their in-house teams long enough to cost effectively deploy BI systems while not being “tied down” with personnel who may not be needed after deployment.

2014 is going to be a pivotal year in the business intelligence market and likely for their customers. The rebirth of business intelligence as a key company asset means, revisiting yours should be on your top ten “to do list”.