BI Goes Mainstream
Never before has BI been so mainstream as it was in 2010. I envision a day, very soon, when someone outside the industry asks me what I do and when I answer ”Business Intelligence” they will know what I mean.
This year both USA Today and The Economist put the spotlight on BI. USA Today did a multi-page article on Business Intelligence on November 17, 2010. Both USA Today and The Economist included statistics about exploding data volumes. Byron Acohido of USA Today wrote ”This year the amount of digital information created and replicated is expected to hit an astounding 1.2 zettabytes. That’s one trillion gigabytes. That number will approach 35 zettabytes by 2020.”
In the section titled: ”Business Intelligence can help improve efficiency” Acohido includes the
Forrester estimates: global spending on BI software will ring in at $9.4 billion this year and rise to $14.1 billion by 2014. That does not include a comparable amount likely to be spent on BI consulting services.
The method of delivering data to end-users has changed dramatically in the last few years. Innovations around visualization of data have changed users from an average consumer to a sophisticated analyst, with the ability to find nuggets of value in what were once obscure data points. ”We look at pictures rather than reports,” says Martin Click, recently retired UPS Senior Director for transportation planning. ”By applying the tool and seeing the data visually, we saved $2.5 million.” (November 17, 2010; USA Today).
In a well considered and researched report, The Economist tackles the primary areas of data, data consumption and data challenges put forth by the data deluge. From "new rules for big data" to "A different game: Information is transforming traditional business" the Economist dissects the companies that are doing this work well, and the instances where it all come crashing down (i.e. security breaches and storage issues). Covering everything from data warehouse appliances to metadata, ”Data, data everywhere: A special report on managing information” sums up the work of every BI professional and took it to the masses.
As I predicted last year (http://blog.lancetsoftware.com/business-intelligence/reflections-on-2009/) , this year was a big one for acquisitions. IBM went on another spending spree picking up Netezza and SPSS. As USA Today wrote in their article in November, ”IBM in particular is betting big on BI. In the past five years, it has spent $14 billion to make 24 BI acquisitions. Its payroll includes 10,000 BI software developers, 8,000 BI consultants and 200 BI mathematicians. ”
EMC acquired Greenplum, the Big one of the year was the acquisition of Sun by Oracle. There are many others not listed here.
All of this activity prompted Gartner to warn of an innovation stale-mate.
Gartner analysts warned that the tech industry is caught in a “vortex of insatiable mergers and acquisitions” that is creating a category of “super vendors” selling highly integrated offerings. Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president of research, offered an audience at Gartner’s annual Symposium a particularly blunt critique of the accelerating trend by tech firms to acquire innovation though mergers and acquisitions. “Acquiring innovation is one thing, maintaining it is completely different,” said Sondergaard. (October 18, 2010; InfoWorld).
Probably the biggest innovation this year was the move to mobile. Lancet participated in the trend when in an all-team meeting in August; Tom Niccum (Lancet’s President) told us that all Lanceteer’s would get iPads. Lancet blogged about our experiences with our iPads in a blog series in October, you can read it here. Our main motivation was to capture some of the enthusiasm around MicroStrategy’s mobile product. Perhaps, this year is the perfect storm for mobility. As Paul Sorensen, Lanceteer and all-around-smart-guy postulates, with the recession still looming, the revolt against TSA’s new screening procedures and the release of 4G 2011 may be the year that organizations fully commit to a mobile workforce. That may mean that the demand for BI in a mobile form will drastically increase as users are no longer limited by the availability of hotspots.
As far as innovators go, MicroStrategy continues to be a leader, according to the BI Survey 9 MicroStrategy out-ranked the others, with SAS and Information Builders in at second and third place respectively.
Next year’s trends are a bit harder to predict. Last year was pretty obvious considering the state of the BI union. Acquisitions are usually a gimme, they will continue to surprise us. I hope that it doesn’t slow down innovations of one of the fastest moving areas of IT, with $14.1 Billion in spend predicted for 2014 (November 17, 2010; USA Today).
From Strategy to Execution
It is time to put the gauntlet down. 2011 has to be the year of getting it done. One of the primary challenges of BI is the fact that many implementations are not successful on their first attempt. We as a community have to get better at this. I believe things like the increased focus on agile methodologies and books like ”Agile Data Warehousing” by Ralph Hughes will help with this. We also need to continue a high-level of collaboration. If predictions are true then there is enough work to go around, and if there are BI Professionals out there that aren’t doing a good job we all suffer. Let’s collaborate and bring our collective knowledge about what it takes to get this work done to a new level. You can join Lancet in this collaboration imperative, click here to learn how.
Analysis with a capital ”A”
I had a boss once tell me that sometimes you just need things to go through gray matter. I continue to be an advocate for analytics, but there is no easy way out. Certainly good BI and a solid data warehouse with a data visualization tool can help, but at the end of the day, nothing (at least not yet) replaces the gray matter of your analysts. It’s the only way companies will really be able to accelerate their analytic perspective. Give the analysts a sandbox and get the heck out of their way.
Here’s to a thrilling 2011!