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Trends 2011: No cloud for BI

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2011 will not be the year of the cloud for Business Intelligence (BI) ‚ rather focus on advanced analytics, BI software-as-a-service and agile approaches, says Martin Rennhackkamp, COO of PBT

From a Business Intelligence (BI) Software-as-a-Service perspective, we are likely to see an increased interest in organisations using BI software on a “rental”” basis – especially for advanced analytics, visualisation, and other forms of information interpretation and dissemination. In other words not for the core data warehousing functions, but for the ad hoc, business changing, experimental, investigative work. If the vendors can get their licensing models right, this would be much more widely adopted, especially by SMEs and organisations in industries with low profit margins.

– Having said that, the interest in – and uptake of – advanced analytics is growing tremendously fast. Coupled with an interest in mining personal/unstructured data to bring more personalised variables into the analytic models – brings more of the customer/vendor/personal aspects into the forecasts.

– New data warehousing techniques, and a more aggressive uptake of real-time data warehousing approaches, make it possible to do sub-second, interactive analytics directly against detailed operational data. Now BI processes and interfaces need to be rethought and redesigned to best facilitate this for fast-changing business processes.

– The increased adoption of advanced analytics is also introducing new “”generated”” data back into the data warehouse (e.g. loyalty scores, propensity to churn or default, likelihood of cross-selling, etc). There is therefore a blurring in the distinctions between the ‚population‚ and ‚consumption‚ phases of BI.

– As data visualisation becomes the de facto user experience, coupled with other advances such as geographical maps and other visual representations users are expecting this as the norm. The BI tool vendors are going to have to step up their game, also with facilities like workflow management, social interaction, tighter office integration, etc. directly from the BI tools.

– What’s more, as business processes and market approaches change faster and faster, BI will have to learn to adopt, and in a way lead, faster. More real-time and forecasted BI is required “”here and now”” to make business decisions. Organisations cannot wait months to get new data into the data warehouse any more. BI competency centres are going to have to align more closely with the business, produce results a lot quicker and work a lot more pro-actively.

– Departmental initiatives are going to put a lot of pressure on corporate data warehousing and BI. If corporate BI isn’t going to cope, departmental initiatives are going to fly past them. Without good and actively enforced governances in place, information chaos could set in.

– With the above in mind, the skilled knowledge worker who has the business insight and the technical know-how is becoming one of the most valuable change agents in the organisation. They require data warehouses with more extensive data (structured and unstructured), and tools to explore and self-report easily and effortlessly off these, in formats that makes sense to business people.

– By not only increasing the value to the business through some of the points above, but also by lowering data warehousing and BI costs, the following will become important:

– Open source tools – Data warehouse appliances – SaaS – Virtual data warehouse services in the cloud (provided enough bandwidth!) ‚ this will begin in 2011, but 2011 will not yet be “”the year of the cloud”” in BI.

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