Top Business Intelligence Trends for 2014

One could argue that if there is a place for the much ballyhooed “Big Data” it lies within at least the systems purview of Business Intelligence (BI). A tedious process for years involving statistical analysis and weeding through tons of bad data to get to even a small grain of truth. IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and SAS still lead the pack of companies with systems deployed to maintain and weed this crop of data. For years these deployments were primarily in only larger companies.

However there is “gold in them there hills” for all and increasingly BI is starting to get more attention, particularly in the boardroom. C-Level folks are starting to want to better visualize their analytics and work with it more directly rather than via reports and interpretations by staff or third parties.

The really big hype over “big data” has subsided a bit and turned more into real interest in how best to harness even the data that is already available after years of operation. Increasingly small and mid-sized retailers are striving to catch up to the current state of BI in order to better anticipate their customer’s needs.

One thing seems sure, 2014 is going to be a busy year full of new opportunities to use both old and new BI systems to do more with all forms of data. Information Week’s “2014 Analytics, BI, and Information Management Survey” conducted in November 2013 gave some insights into what many enterprises are considering in the near future.

The report’s summary hits the highlights of the report generated from input by organizations using or planning to deploy data analytics, business intelligence or statistical analysis software. 67% of those surveyed indicated interest in employing advanced data analysis to advance their businesses.

Other points that rose to the top:

  • 59% say data quality problems are the biggest barrier to successful analytics or BI initiatives.
  • 35% have standardized on one or a few analytics and BI products deployed throughout the company.
  • 44% say “predicting customer behavior” is the biggest factor driving interest in big data analysis.
  • 47% list “expertise being scarce and expensive” as the primary concern about using big data software.
  • 58% list “accessing relevant, timely, or reliable data” as their organization’s biggest impediment to success regarding information management.

The large enterprises that have already deployed BI and analytics systems will be facing challenges to first correct the existing weaknesses and then look to integrate these systems with cloud based applications to allow greater use of and direct interaction with critical management data. For the smaller business many new players and most of the older ones are already moving many features and connections to the “cloud”.

For obvious data security reasons adoption of cloud based BI systems hasn’t been the kind of rocket that more marketing oriented systems have. The larger companies keep this sort of data fairly close to the vest and locked down tight. However a recent research study conducted by Pringle & Company the cloud BI sector is growing fairly rapidly and should be worth close to $4 billion by 2017.

According to the study that Pringle conducted, the market for BI software and services in 2013 was $85.9bn, growing at a CAGR of 16.4%, leading to an almost doubling in size by 2017. “BI is one of the, if not the stellar performer of the IT market, having sustained high levels of growth during the recent challenging economic times,” Pringle said.

“BI has traditionally been focused in the hands of a relatively small number of users who, largely, work in enterprise-scale organisations. That has started to change with the availability of business-led BI, an evolution of the tools used to analyse data allowing a revolution in the scale of user community able to benefit from data-driven insight.”

The industries that will primarily be affected and should be considering what to do are retail, insurance, healthcare, and of course most consumer or business oriented service sectors. As more of their customers move to a mobile web centric universe the amount of data available to even small businesses will hold the secrets to success. Companies interested in this space should take a hard look at their current data management and then seek an objective outside opinion on what to do next.

For some of these businesses more traditional BI systems will be necessary to comply with regulations within their industries. Others will benefit from the lower costs and faster deployment that cloud based systems can provide. All will need to avoid turning a “blind eye” to the increasing need for advanced business analytics and how fast they integrate all of their data systems will be critical to survival in an increasingly tech driven world.