Well itâ€™s the last day of 2008, and itâ€™s tradition at this time of year to make predictions for the coming year. If the financial chaos of the last few months continues into 2009, which most financial pundits say it will, then the IT industry is heading for a tough time over the coming year. This makes predicting industry directions really difficult because IT organizations are less inclined to purchase new products and technologies when budgets are tight.
The business intelligence (BI) marketplace has often been immune to industry downturns. This is because companies often turn to BI in difficult times to help them identify areas where revenues can be increased and costs can be reduced. This is especially the case in front office sales, marketing, and support organizations. Given the potential size of the coming downturn, however, can even BI be immune? I doubt it.
I believe, however, that there are ways BI can ride out the coming storm and be of benefit to the business. I think the main task that organizations should focus on is using new BI technologies to reduce costs (rather than increasing revenues). This can be achieved by reducing the cost of delivering new BI business solutions and by increasing business user productivity.
The BI solutions that will have the most impact in 2009 will be those that provide IT and business users quick and low-cost approaches for discovering, accessing, integrating, analyzing, delivering and sharing information in a way that that helps business users become more productive and more self-sufficient.
This means that there will be increased interest in open source software, BI software-as-a-service, low-cost application appliances, search, the integration of BI with collaborative and social computing software, rich internet applications, web syndication, and data and presentation mashups. Many of these solutions will come from small innovative BI companies, rather than large software companies who are still struggling to integrate the morass of BI software they acquired in 2008.
The technologies mentioned support low cost and fast BI application deployment. Many of them will be used by line-of-business IT rather than the enterprise IT organization. This could result in a turf war where enterprise IT tries to control and govern the use of these new technologies by the business. This would be a huge mistake. Instead enterprise IT should look for best practices in the use of these technologies by business groups, replicate them in other parts of the organization, and look for ways of incorporating the cream of the crop into the existing IT environment.
The purists will cry that this will lead to anarchy and islands of data and software. If that is the case then so be it. In the coming 12 months we need to do what ever it takes to be productive and reduce short-term costs. This is not the time for fancy architectures, purist approaches, academic debates, or large projects.
Have a great 2009!