At the end of each year a number of ”Top trends in Business Intelligence for the next year” reports are published. The end of 2013 was no exception. Many of these reports come from vendors who often (strangely enough) report that the technological focus of their solutions will become the next year’s trend. Others come from various analysts based on surveys, BI conferences or just gut feelings.
Below we have surveyed some of these reports for 2014 *) and combined them with our own results from our forthcoming 2014 Business Intelligence in the Nordics vendor survey. We have separated vendor specific trends from the general trends that we see shaping the Business intelligence agenda in 2014. We have also focused on analyst predictions that are based on survey findings (from either vendors or companies) rather than gut feelings. This gave us five overall categories of trends that will be in focus in 2014.
1. Access to data from anywhere anytime through web and apps. Most predictions see mobile access to data becoming the norm and continue to evolve in 2014. This implies that managers will access data through mobile devices either through specially designed webpages or specially designed BI apps. Data visualization will be fitted to the device being used and fully utilize the touch screen interface. Mobile access is in itself not a revolutionary change in business intelligence but it will change the way managers think about their data and shorten the time lags from event occurrence to data registration to presentation thus minimizing management reaction times and improving decision-making. In 2014 most BI vendors will offer mobile solutions or be in the process of launching one.
2. Evolving business analytics clouds. The evolution of cloud based data access and analytics will continue. Cloud based analytics applications are being used by large BI vendors to increase market share in the small and medium sized company segment. Cloud storage and analytics services are emerging for big data that can handle large data volumes, high update frequency and complexity. Cloud datawarehouse solutions are emerging and reducing build times from weeks to hours. The Cloud will continue to evolve in 2014 and change how management views data access, storage and the value of analytical scalability. Vendors who do not have cloud solutions already will in 2014 either develop their own solutions or ally themselves with pure cloud service providers.
3. More analytical empowerment. This trend has many names in the reports surveyed such as end user self-service, data ownership and business integration. Its essence is how end users – whoever he or she might be – use technology to empower themselves to improve decision making and gain new insights from data. It is about cutting out the proverbial middle man – meaning the organizational, technological and human layers between the end user and the data he or she needs to make better decisions. This is becoming a crucial competitive element in the BI market and vendors who will ignore the drive towards end user empowerment will risk falling behind. The year 2014 will see even more focus on this trend with improved visualization intelligence, more open source or integrated analytical tools and evolving point-and-click analytics.
4. Destructuration and streaming of data. In the old days data was generated when someone entered it in a structured way into an information system. Today data is to a large extent also machine generated through websites, sensors, monitors, scanners, bots and apps. Many see the capture, integration and utilization of data as an important trend in 2014. These data sources are ultimately a new source of insight into e.g. customer behavior, vendor performance, quality and operations. Machine generated data is however big data as it is voluminous, variable, volatile, complex and unstructured. The market is thus seeing new technologies evolving in this area with non-SQL database technologies that can store, integrate and provide access to this type of data. In 2014 this will continue to be in focus mainly among larger organizations that have the need and resources to tap into this new source of value.
5. Increase in predictive power. In 2014 more companies will focus on improving their predictive abilities. Although many companies claim to use predictive analytics it is often an introverted exercise based on the company’s own historical (often accounting) data. Although such analytics can lead to new insights about what happened yesterday enhanced predictive power comes from combining this data with internal and external data generated by websites, machines, buildings, vehicles, products, weather, locations and consumer behavior to name just a few. This requires focus on integration of data and application of analytical technologies. Furthermore, apart from laying the technological foundations, companies will focus on developing their analytical capabilities through organization, competency development and evolving a data driven culture.
*) Reports from Tableau Software, Information Week, Information Management, Forbes, Dataversity, Forrester, Gartner, Teradata and SAP.