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Top 10 Trends in Business Intelligence and Analytics

Originally published January 7, 2010

As the year 2009 came to an end, we also wrapped up the first decade of 21st century. There were many significant changes to our global community in this decade but, most important for corporate executives is the instantaneous access to a lot of critical data (and the related environmental contribution in killing fewer trees due to less consumption of printed reports!). In 2009, business intelligence (BI) took a prominent place among enterprise decision makers, as they spent a considerable amount of time focused on turning the increasing amount of available disparate data into actionable information.

This explosion in digital data has put lot of weight on the shoulders of BI professionals who must now aggregate, correlate and help turn it into intelligence. This important process, I believe, can be distilled into a simple equation: D3 + A3 + T3 = I3. Aggregating and correlating Disparate Digital Data (D3) into complex and efficient Actionable Analytical Applications (A3) by a Totally Talented Team (T3) provides Intuitive Intelligent Information (I3). Over the next decade, data and analytics will have a brand new beginning based on this equation, creating a profound global impact on every enterprise as their fact-based decision making processes enable organizational intuition.

The Totally Talented Team at Saama has logged more than two million hours in this field, over multiple industries, in various enterprise functional areas, using emerging to established technologies, and has distilled this experience and resulting expertise into projecting the future trends in the data and analytics space, drawing up the top 10 trends for 2010 and beyond, outlined below:

1. The “Intuitive Intelligent Information (I3) Platform” Guides Enterprise Strategy

Enterprises in different industries that took aggressive advantage of the digital revolution over the past two decades have been at the forefront of utilizing digital data and depending on analytics to help make their executive decisions on Intuitive Intelligent Information (I3). Today’s enterprise data is not limited to its own firewalls or just partners / vendors, but has expanded into the bigger ecosystem that defines their markets, customers, geographies, public / private / syndicated data and indirectly, interdependent businesses. The standard enterprise transactional system has been continually improved to provide optimal performance for many enterprises. At the same time, enterprise decisions are not limited to the executive suite, but managers at all levels are increasingly expected to make decisions based on the I3, rather than intuition. Over the next decade, we will see the creation of the I3 platform, and (the resultant) data and analytics becoming part of a core strategy of enterprises to compete, differentiate, and innovate in tomorrow’s marketplace.

2. Mobile Readiness Drives Productivity

Information-on-demand, faster communication with bigger bandwidth pipes, and greater productivity gains are three good reasons for a successful enterprise to build out a mobile infrastructure that goes well beyond voice and email support. With the introduction of smart phones over the past few years and the increasing mobile platform maturity, it is clear that Actionable Analytical Applications (A3) will be first supported on the mobile devices, as we did on the Web over the past decade. Many of these applications will use increasingly available bandwidths and the connectivity inherent in existing enterprise Web applications to create closed-loop systems, allowing users to make decisions, as well as carry out the required action in an integrated A3 environment. Mobile devices will become our standard productivity tool, just as we saw the move to desktops in the ‘90s and laptops in ‘00s.

3. Visualization & the User Interface Define BI Adoption

Good user interfaces are crucial to user acceptance. As the World Wide Web redefined our application user interface over the past decade – and the iPhone did over the past few years – Actionable Analytical Applications (A3) will have to redefine our application architecture with elevated visualization components, taking overall usability and interactivity to a new level. The adoption of information-on-demand through A3 requires a newer paradigm – like Web 2.0 and beyond – in our thinking while deploying this new breed.

4. Automated Data Discovery Accelerates BI Programs

It’s been said that analytic applications are only as good as the underlying data they have access to. As enterprise data volumes have exploded over the past decade with multiple complex transactional system instances, the need to access and integrate data from both within and outside the organization has increased the need for automated data discovery tools. In addition, M&A activities within organizations require integration with external systems. Automated data discovery tools will make it possible to structure, re-use and speed up all aspects of the integration process, thereby reducing BI program costs and improving time-to-value.

5. Social Networking Redefines Collaboration

Collaborative business intelligence has been around for a while, but has had limited success due to immature technologies. Enterprise social networking is primarily about the paths that information exchanges take between decision makers and not about the physical distance that exists between them. Business intelligence needs to aid a decision process. In the global organization, social networking apps provide a platform for effective collaboration, leading to faster decision making, ultimately resulting in effective “cycle time to action.” The immense successes of social networking technologies have given a new meaning to the word “collaboration” in the past couple of years. We will witness a new breed of Actionable Analytical Applications (A3) that will redefine the collaboration, with the Y generation folks leading that effort.

6. Business Users Take the Driver’s Seat

The major functional areas within the enterprise – sales, marketing, finance, manufacturing, channel management and so on – further specialized for specific industry (life sciences, CPG, finance, etc.) will depend more and more on outside specialized vendors to provide the specific point solutions as additions to enterprise IT infrastructure and framework. The specialized point solution vendors will need to access / integrate the data with the enterprise standard transaction applications to make their applications effective. The need for the overall data discovery, integration and analytics among all these applications will further increase the complexities associated in achieving the “single truth.” These point solutions will drive a sense of best practice and homogeneity like ERP systems did for the transaction world.

7. BI Appliances Become Indispensable

There has been lot of innovation by emerging independent specialized vendors in processing raw data for analytics by a multiplication factor higher than today’s standard hardware / software platforms can handle. Every enterprise will make moves in the near term to embed the BI appliance as part of their overall strategy in processing their Disparate Digital Data (D3) and efficiently running their Actionable Analytical Applications (A3). BI appliances have shown the reduction in the overall costs to own / support, improvements in performance for the consumer and, finally, less work required by specialists to deliver the very much required Intuitive Intelligent Information (I3). However, a number of these independent vendors may be acquired by larger software vendors.

8. Advanced Analytics Reach the Masses

Over the past decade, data mining and predictive analytics belonged to a tiny group of people with Ph. D’s disconnected from the operations of the enterprise. There are many practical derivates that are embedded in today’s Actionable Analytical Applications (A3) that are deductive, prescriptive or guided in nature. We will continue to witness these complex algorithms embedded as features to deduce (or detect) the anomalies in the business patterns or prescribe a set of specific actions to be taken or provide guided analytics to business owners with abilities to process complex events. 

9. SaaS becomes the New Norm

With the immense success of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model, “_________ as a service” will be our new normal. Infrastructure hardware, platform software and generic user applications will be available as part of the new norm that can be paid through small monthly subscriptions by enterprise users as they grow with them. The overall upfront costs are very minimal to the enterprises, and the costs of supporting on multiple platforms / versions are eliminated for software vendors. The implementations of Actionable Analytical Applications (A3) are going to be prime candidates as leaders for this business model with the large volumes of complex data.

10. Continued Data Growth Requires a New Breed of BI Specialists

Data warehouse specialists over the past decade understood the need to correlate the Disparate Digital Data (D3) that existed within the enterprise and, to some extent, integrate it with business partner data. The amount of data aggregated by different organizations in the market has grown exponentially over the past decade. Every enterprise has to acquire additional data from either private, public or syndicated data owners that, either directly or indirectly, will play an important role in having Intuitive Intelligent Information (I3) of their own. The Actionable Analytical Applications (A3) specialists will be required to become experts in correlating the D3 from within the enterprise as well as outside from other vendors

At Saama, we’ve seen firsthand the beginnings of these core technology and implementation trends in the organizations of our customers and partners. From the creation of the Intuitive Intelligent Information platform to the evolution of the BI specialist, we look forward to continuing our role in supporting the ever-growing need to discover, access, prepare, distill, and disseminate the enterprise information for both strategic and day-to-day decision making. As always, I welcome your feedback on these trends.

  • Suresh Katta
    Suresh is the CEO of Saama Technologies, Inc., a San Jose, CA-based pure-play business intelligence (BI) company. He established Saama in 1997, just after being recognized as the “Innovator of the Year” by a leading publication, “Application Development Trends,” for his work in the BI area with BusinessObjects. He founded Saama with a vision to increase the IQ of enterprises by providing Intuitive Intelligent Information (I3) to every decision maker. Since then, under his dynamic leadership, Saama has grown exponentially and today it is recognized as one of the largest pure play business intelligence companies in the world. Suresh has an ability to read the upcoming changes in the BI market with surprising accuracy and has ensured that Saama is a step ahead of the shifts in the BI landscape.

    Saama Technologies, Inc. is a consulting and systems integration firm with focused expertise in providing actionable business intelligence for enterprises and innovative outsourcing services for software product companies. Since 1997 Saama has been leveraging experience with nearly 1,000 projects across multiple clients. Saama has been able to continuously innovate in the formulation and delivery of relevant services to both users and providers of technology. For more information, visit www.saama.com.


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Posted July 5, 2010 by kirsty@wearecloud.com

Great post.  We at We Are Cloud actually wrote a blog post very similar recently, see http://bimehq.com/data-visualization/5-bi-data-visualization-trends-2010.  We agree with the points you have made above, and we also came up with another few trends to consider:


1. Growth of the Data Warehousing Market


Recently we’ve seen a trend toward consolidation and building a centralized enterprise data warehouse. As a result, a massive modernization drive intended to improve overall decision-making ability, is now taking place.  Within the past year, data warehousing solutions have continued to become more and more popular because of their high levels of performance, ability to incorporate analytics, and their integration within larger BI platforms.  As the costs of space and processing speed become lower, vendors can give organizations more powerful offerings but with lower price tags. This has helped to expand the use of data warehouses within organizations, both by the number of companies adopting data warehouses, and by the types of applications that can be used.


2. Increased Use of Different Data Sources


The reality of today is that in order to stay ahead of competitors, companies are required to integrate various information sources to get additional value from their data and a full operational view of the organization.  Vendors are now developing business-focused applications that take these requirements into account and offer customers a ready-made solution that targets business issues being faced by companies within different markets.


3. Renewed Focus on Fraud Detection and Security


Because of the amount of media coverage of fraudulent activities, the ability to detect fraud and to maintain a secure environment is an area constantly at the forefront of IT. Organizations are required to make sure that information within the firewall is not left at risk.  So as threats against IT security have continued to augment, organizations have been more committed to tightly monitoring their environments and the information within them.  Providers have done a good job ensuring security - however, because of increased risk, organizations and vendors alike will focus more on maintaining high level security within their information centers, especially due to all the new forms of data being integrated into analytics platforms.


4.  Advanced Data Visualizations


Data visualization offerings keep expanding, and the inclusion of geo-spatial analysis has helped bring analytics to the forefront of visualization.  For organizations looking at product, geographical or customer data, the ability to identify trends using maps has helped them to recognize trends a lot faster.  Although this technology has been around for a while and is not « new » as such, it is only recently that companies have started to integrate this type of functionality on a regular basis within their overall dashboard use.


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