In general, while meeting with vendors at TDWI to get updates on products and to identify changes in roadmaps, etc., it becomes possible to identify general market trends and the overall position solution providers are taking to provide their customers with additional business value. Based on my conversations over the past week, here are some of the BI trends within the market at large.
Data warehouse appliances
The appliance market is becoming saturated with new players. In a sense, data warehousing is developing into its own market as a separate entity from traditional BI. Now many vendors exist providing hardware and software components to enable data warehouse design. Unfortunately, because of the focus on query performance and the total TBs or PBs supported, it can become difficult to differentiate between various offerings and understand which one best suits any organization. Many solution providers themselves are lacking in the area of identifying the business value that is associated with a data warehouse implementation. Teradata and Kalido are two examples of companies that understand that added business value is what should be providing the key differentiations within the market as a whole.
In addition to the appliance market expanding, solution providers are focusing more intently on developing and providing an analytic framework within the data infrastructure layer. Advancements including in-memory, data federation, increased processing speeds, and the like, as well as the increasing popularity in columnar databases create an environment primed for analytics that take place within the database layer. Conversations such as what to bring into the data warehouse or how many data marts to create may become more obsolete over time as companies can create analyses on the fly without having to take into consideration the structure of the database or what dimensions have been modeled.
Data management platforms
As an extension of the general data warehousing market, the way in which data is managed and integrated within BI infrastructure is changing. Solution providers such as DataFlux and Informatica are starting to develop a platform approach to data management by combining data integration and master data management solutions. This way of looking at data management is new in relation to available market offerings but will definitely continue to increase as more vendors expand their data management infrastructures and as organizations look towards a holistic approach to managing their internal and external data.
Robust, interactive dashboards and visualization
Much focus within the world of BI still remains on the data infrastructure and supporting layers. On the front-end, organizations are starting to look at dashboards and visual analytics as an entry point to BI. Mid-market companies and individual business units are primed for dashboard deployments that either access operational data stores or that is part of a larger hosted solution. On the part of vendors, there is a push towards offering dashboards that can be deployed independently of developer intervention. As more business users look to interact with data and to attain insights on the fly, vendors look towards creating advanced and visually pleasing interfaces that include the ability to design and interact with the solution without the expectation of strong technical skills.
Increasing focus on using BI to drive business value
One of the overarching focuses within the market, whether on the back-end or within the visualization side, is the increase in target of business users or of focusing on the business value of what solutions provide. Unfortunately, because of the extensive data focus of BI in general, the ability for lay people to understand how analytics, data warehouses, etc. can help them solve their business problems has been elusive. Luckily, solution providers are starting to slowly understand that the only way they will continue to provide customers with concrete business benefits is to sell the business in addition to IT experts.