In 2011 it was all about mobility and the skyrocketing penetration of tablet PCs in the workplace as a crucial element of enterprise reporting and IT strategies at large.
But what about 2012 and beyond? Which new products, developments and services are set to dominate Business Intelligence (BI) and analytics implementations and debate? This topic was recently signposted on LinkedIn community Business Intelligence Group – a collection of BI professionals and experts.
Contrary to the ideas bandied about by marketers, analyst and advisory firms, this thread revealed something akin to an insider’s perspective – those using BI products in their daily workplace activities – and some alternative insight.
Gary Ferguson, a CFO from the Great San Diego Area, suggested that the trend towards “better stakeholder management” – where representatives from all stakeholder and user-groups are actively incorporated into the delivery team to maximize client satisfaction – would encapsulate 2012 BI project delivery strategies. BI project delivery methodologies and mechanisms are vital for fostering successful user-group buy-in but are often overshadowed amidst over-hyped product feature-functionality dialogue.
Pearl Zhu, President of an IT company in the San Francisco Bay Area, cited the intensification of the development of tools designed to handle and dissect Big Data as the next big thing to hit BI.
Patrick Tehubijuluw of the Netherlands intimated that Closed Loop reporting – improving the delivery efficiency of information via mobile and collaborative capabilities to allow faster fact-based decision-making – will strongly influence BI in 2012.
A number of thread respondents advocated the continued rise of in-memory data tools as the singular trend that would dominate the BI landscape in the near future. Although, this suggestion seems a little rear-window.
The next big thing in BI: Yellowfin’s prediction
At Yellowfin, we believe that the consumerization of BI – the development of user-friendly features and functionality – will dictate the direction of the BI industry and continued product development in 2012. Whilst this concept is by no means a new phenomenon, it’s a trend that gathered significant momentum towards the end of 2011, as vendors responded to market research that highlighted growing demand for product usability.
Incidentally, this was the most popularly espoused view in the aforementioned LinkedIn discussion.
“I believe that the BI industry is going through a major transition… more and more organizations are no longer satisfied with the offerings of the established guard of big BI vendors and are looking for alternatives,” said Stefan Schmitz, Product Manager in the San Francisco Bay Area. “These organizations are demanding solutions that are far more affordable, easier to deploy, maintain and use.”
“The market is changing rapidly,” wrote Marianne Meagher, Sales Manager, Washington D.C. Metro Area. “The average BI user DOES not want to use tools that are complex and hard to implement. They have limited time to view and understand the data and want to get it quickly, visually and on whatever form factor they are using. I think the users are ready for this shift and this is what is changing the BI landscape very quickly.”
“An increasing number of organizations are making BI functionality more pervasively available to all decision makers, executives, staff employees, managers and suppliers,” stated Dhiren Gala, a BI Communications Professional from the Mumbai Area, India.
“To be particularly useful to a wide range of users, BI needs to understand not only the skill set of programmers and analysts, but the end executor of the information in the context that they need to use it in,” added Colin Shaw, CEO, Fayetteville, Arkansas Area.
Gartner’s 2011 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms study adds clout to these predictions. The survey ranked ‘ease-of-use’ as the most important selection criteria when purchasing a BI platform, surpassing ‘functionality’ for the first time. The associated Gartner Research Note, BI Platforms User Survey, 2011: Customers Rate their BI Platform Functionality, stated that: “Strong functionality is clearly no longer enough... Vocal, demanding and influential business users are increasingly driving BI purchasing decisions, most often choosing easier to use data discovery tools over traditional BI platforms — with or without IT’s consent.”
The beginnings of this movement were unearthed in results garnered from the BeyeNETWORK’s 2010 research report, Ease of Use and Interface Appeal in Business Intelligence Tools, which revealed ease-of-use as a growingly important factor for businesses looking to implement, and who already have, a BI solution. Survey participants rated ease-of-use as more important than features or analytic power, with 47 percent rating ease-of-use as ‘very important’, while 32 percent said that it was ‘essential’. The study also directly linked BI adoption to ease-of-use and therefore BI Return on Investment (ROI).
But haven’t we heard about ease-of-use and widespread adoption before you ask? So why then, will ease-of-use – under the banner of consumerization – be the domineering topic and overarching area of progress during 2012?
Because, recent research clearly shows that for all the rhetoric, the majority of BI platforms still face major usability-related issues. InformationWeek, in their 2012 BI and Information Management Trends Report, and Cindi Howson’s Successful BI report demonstrate that enterprise BI adoption rates remain fairly stagnant at an uninspiring 25 percent. And, as flagged in the BeyeNETWORK’s 2010 study, user adoption rates and product ease-of-use are inextricably linked.
So what’s Yellowfin’s plan for 2012? Simple. We’ll just keep making Business Intelligence easy.