Update on Top 6 BI Trends for 2012

Analyst Reports, Big Data, Big Data Analytics, Cloud BI No Comments

Late in 2011, Gartner came out with their top 6 predictions for business intelligence: BI in the Cloud, Mobile BI, Analytics, Agile BI, In-memory analytics, and Big Data. As we enter the final quarter, let’s take a look at how things are panning out.

BI in the Cloud

As Cloud computing continues to dominate the IT landscape, Gartner is predicting that cloud offerings will make up just 3 per cent of BI revenue by 2013. However, it is gaining ground and chipping away at on-premises BI, particularly in the Big Data Analytics space.
Decision makers are still questioning the Cloud as an operational tool. The initial move of data to the Cloud is a challenge, as is bandwidth and security. Many are favoring using Cloud of back up storage and archiving, and disaster recovery, but are still unsure of how well Cloud will support operational data activities.

Mobile BI

Forrester’s believe Mobile BI will go mainstream in 2012. Whilst I agree that mobile BI will continue to grow, the small device platform is suited only to a limited subset of business intelligence activities. There is still an issue around data security on caching data on mobile devices, which are readily lost or stolen. There are also processing power constraints, limiting any real value with analytics.
As a quick, on the go monitoring tool – great – but I am unconvinced that mobile devices will suit the escalating swell in analytics needs.

Analytics

The MIT Sloan Management report found that organizations using analytics are more than twice as likely to substantially outperform their competitive peers. Analytics is certainly the one to watch. As many companies are still struggling to publish dashboards on historical data – the technical needs around advanced analytics are still well beyond many organisations. This is certainly one for the Cloud – and watch out for a rapid explosion of Analytics as a Service offerings. Moving analytics closer to the data is a key strategy, and with Big Data better suited to the Cloud – it makes sense that analytics will follow.

Analytics has already taken off, it is now a matter of maturity towards optimization and prediction becoming integrated into business processes so that it is consumable as a decision management tool.

Agile BI

Agile is good with anything today. Methodologies are not getting a lot of focus as BI teams are getting swamped with requests for reports and dashboards that are better off being done locally, but business users. However, sadly too little attention has been given to training in using BI tools and in effective dashboard design. Before agile BI can really take hold, BI teams need to get more aligned with their real function – and pass publishing back to the business.

In-Memory Analytics

Memory continues to get cheaper by the day – and in-memory analytics tools such as Qlikview, Spofire and Tableau are helping users gain more insight into the power of simple data exploration. The real benefit, is that local data sets can be used, rather than relying on waiting for IT to import data into centralized data warehouses. This does cut out the data quality look – but for exploration purposes it’s a good start to helping businesses to expand their business intelligence portfolio.

Big Data

Forrester’s prediction that Big Data will move out of the silos and into enterprise IT may be right, but its not the best decision for many companies. With the rapid growth in the volume and variety of data it makes much more sense for Big Data to be in the Cloud. Corporates have enough to do without continually adding more servers and memory.

Big Data is certainly changing the business landscape – however, its maturity has yet to cross ‘The Chasm’ and corporate IT is better to wait until it has, and for their business users to get more savvy about how to use Big Data.

Tableau Leads the Field in Overall Success Magic Quadrant

Analyst Reports, BI Solutions No Comments

Gartners Magic Quadrant for BI reports have become the default quarterly benchmark for BI vendors to assess their products against their rivals. Following 3-4 years of consolidation in the BI market, 2010 was more noted for the ability of BI solutions to combine an ease of use and flexibility with meeting IT standards. This was an attempt to overcome the greatest objection to BI applications – their complexity and difficulty in use. Its not always an easy compromise to provide a ‘simple, easy to use’ solution that still has all the required functionality. This is where User Interface design really becomes the driver – and sadly, an area that many solutions, not just BI fall down. Read the rest…

What Drives the Best BI TCO?

Analyst Reports, BI Program, BI Strategy No Comments
I always look forward to the reports on BI from the Aberdeen Group to get a global perspective of how BI projects are being deployed and how well users are engaging with BI tools. The latest April 2010 report focused on TCO, in particular the cost per BI user. According to the report, during the previous 12 months, the average total expenditure per BI User*:
  • Best in Class – $357
  • Industry Average – $968
  • Laggard $ 3,321
So just what is behind this significant variance in expenditure, what is it that best in class are doing at a lesser cost than other BI initiatives. According to other findings in the report Best in class BI teams:
  • Had a clearly defined BI strategy – including a strategy for BI data management
  • Had standard processes for gathering end user BI requirements
  • Were 2.9 times more likely to formally develop BI knowledge and skills amongst users
  • Were 1.8 times more likely to track BI project costs to budget
  • Were 1.7 times more likely to automate the creation of reports.
The overall message is that BI TCO is not only about the technology. It is largely impacted by the transformational efforts made to define a BI strategy, manage BI project roadmap iterations, and to educate users on how to extract more value from their BI tools.
* The TCO View of Business Intelligence – How to Get the Most Bang for Your Analytical Buck. Michael Lock. April 2010.
You can find copies of this report on the aberdeen.com website.

Open Source – Will It Transform the Software Industry?

Analyst Reports, Cloud Computing, Pentaho No Comments

Support for open source software has grown significantly over the past five years. Recently, Forrester Analyst Jeffrey Hammond claimed that open-source technology is now “a de facto standard” for IT, with many companies hoping to save $30K-$40K per server in 2010 by switching to open-source.

Open source solutions are bubbling to the top of many types of applications. Open Source BI solutions, lead by Pentaho offer the cost and flexibility advantages previously lacking in many packaged commercial solutions.

So just how will this model play out? Will applications become commoditized with revenue models moving from software to services? Will the Cloud help to drive this change?

Share your thoughts on this, I am interested to know what you think.

Gartner Sets Record Straight on SaaS BI on Demand

Analyst Reports, on Demand BI, SaaS 1 Comment

One of the main difficulties most businesses face when selecting software is separating the hype from the reality. This also applies to considering web-based on demand business intelligence analytics.

Gartner found that of the five commonly held assumptions – three are entirely false and the other two only partly true.

Businesses often don’t appreciate how quickly software can be improved after the initial launch. With such a competitive market, software development vendors are pressured to get products to market ASAP, and no longer wait for perfection in terms of either feature richness of functional performance. However, with feedback from early adopters, development continues vigorously and the applications can be almost transformed in the first 6-12 months. I think this is actually a really good process, as it helps to validate exactly what users do want, and not waste money developing performance or features that are not appreciated.

Of the five most commonly held assumptions about SaaS BI models:

1. SaaS is less expensive than on-premises software – TRUE

SaaS applications do not require large capital investment by businesses for licenses or support infrastructure. This can significantly reduce the total cost of ownership over the first two years. After this time, client site deployed applications can become more economical in terms of financial reporting [amortisation impact], however this is not necessarily true for an operational IT expense perspective.

2. SaaS is faster to implement than on-premises software – HALF TRUE

Speed of implementation for SaaS is faster for simple applications, however one must deliniate between initial implementation time and the additional time taken to deploy it to all users, which can take 2-3 times longer. As the complexity of processes and integration increase, the gap decreases. This is due to the larger percentage of the deployment time spent on customization, configuration and integration which can be equally difficult for both models.

3. SaaS is priced as a utility model, similar to electric companies – FALSE

Many vendors claim to charge on a usage basis, but in most cases they must commit to an agreed estimated usage independent of actual use.

4. SaaS does not integrate with on-premises applications and/or data sources – FALSE

Companies can integrate web based data using either batch synchronization, real-time integration using Web services or at the user-interface level through mashups.

5. SaaS is only for simple, basic requirements – FALSE

Whilst there are limits to customisation on SaaS models, the feature set of many applications rivals that of on-premise versions. SaaS vendors provide development platforms that enable high levels of configuration and the metadata level. The area of tightest constraint is in end-to-end processes requiring complexworkflow or business process management capabilities.

I hope this gives more confidence to those businesses considering SaaS models. For more on SaaS BI and vendor options available.

BI Cited ‘Top Technology’ for 2009

Analyst Reports, BI Strategy, Cloud Computing, CRM Solutions, IT Strategy, SaaS No Comments

The latest Gartner 2009 CIO Agenda survey of 1500 CIO’s has revealed some surprising and not so surprising results.

Firstly, the not so surprising is that BI has been voted as the top technology for 2009, after all BI has held this spot since 2006.  What is surprising is that the focus is not on analytics – the survey indicated that the top CIO business expectation was in improving business processes. This surprised me, as many companies have supposedly already been through this era – or maybe is just wasn’t done well enough. The other inference I have made is that BI is now focusing on the operational value it contributes – what we refer to as OBI.

The rankings of exectations and technologies are:

Expectations

  1. Reducing enterprise costs
  2. Improving enterprise workforce effectiveness
  3. Attracting and retaining new customers [#2 in 2008]
  4. Creating new products or services [#3 in 2008], however innovation is forecast to move up the ladder to top spot by 2012.

 IT Strategies

  1. Tighter link between business and IT strategies
  2. Reducing the cost of IT [#10 in 2008]
  3. Delivering projects that enable growth
  4. Attracting, developing and retaining IT personnel

 Technologies

  1. Business intelligence [BI] [ since 2006]
  2. Enterprise applications such as CRM or ERP
  3. Servers and storage technologies.

 The survey results overall are not surprising. As the current market is hardly conducive to growth strategies for most businesses, it is an ideal time to refocus on core business and get better at the basics. BI is known for its ability to improve productivity whilst reducing costs. We can not overlook the past carnage of poorly implemented BI projects and tools that were too difficult for most business users to integrate into their daily operations. However, in the past two years this scenario has changed signficiantly, with tools much more business oriented and the knowledge base of implementation best practice taking learnings from the past and crafting far better BI program practices of today. The other missing link I will personally add is the level of education the business receives, not in using BI but in why they should be using it, and exactly how it improves a business from single user self performance management all the way up to the boardroom strategy.

Virtualisation, cloud computing and software-as-a-service [SaaS] are also acknowledged as cost reducing strategies but many IT managers are still cautious around availability, security, and a full functional fit. Such technologies are gaining favor with mid to small enterprises that may not have the full IT capabilities of larger corporates.

Overall,  although BI is voted the top technology for 2009, the ‘killer app’ is ‘Leadership’. Companies don’t want consultants giving them a set of options – they want strong leadership paths to drive their businesses through the current downturn and still come out having advanced in some way. It may not be with customer growth and revenue growth, but I expect we will see leaner and meaner businesses forging ahead with renewed vigor and tighter focus.

Survey base: N=1500 CIOs worldwide, Duration= 3 months to Dec 15, 2008. Average company size = 400, average IT budget = $90 million.