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BI in Action

Joe McKendrick

Web 2.0 Will Reshape the Face of BI

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"Tectonic forces" are reshaping the business intelligence market as we know it, according to RV Ramanan, head of global delivery and chief software architect for Hexaware Technologies. These range from mergers and acquisition activity sweeping the market, to an increasing emphasis on pre-built analytics.

Ramanan recently provided me with his insights on the forces that are reshaping BI as we know it. For example, he points to Web 2.0 as a new driver of a new breed of BI. He notes that while the concept of Web 2.0 was only coined four years ago, the rise of the collaborative Web that it's engendering "may have such profound impact on the business intelligence space, one that seems almost unbelievable for old fashioned data warehousing folks."

The combination of BI with Web 2.0 approaches is "having a compounding effect on need fulfillment, which, for the information world means distributed centers -- and not just a data warehouse -- acting as service centers to provide information to the end consumer." He also notes that the reference data or metadata may also see distributed silos yet -- unbelievably -- with single versions of truth."

Software as a Service, another facet of Web 2.0, also is reshaping the market as we know it. "The concept of software licensing as is prevalent in the BI world may also go a paradigm shift and may extend beyond SaaS, with a redefined paradigm of revenue sharing, like the telecom industries, as one may both be the supplier and consumer of information."

Real-time analytics is another force reshaping BI -- in some areas, but not everywhere, Ramanan says. "Managers want to do analysis by the minute or by the second." However, while this speed is wanted, it isn;t necessarily needed. "Most managers want to have information at their tips and past day results are good enough to take most decisions," he observes. "In fact 97% of the business needs ,be it sales data, HR data, operations data, customer data is good enough with a one day latency – which is what most data warehouses provide through batch processing mechanisms."

Ramanan also sees the following trends for the year ahead in BI:

The mergers and acquisitions that have taken place across the industry may drive more more enterprises to adopt suites, versus best-of-breed products. "Companies may want to align with the product vendor’s BI vision to get ample vendor support in product upgrades, product enhancement and availability of trained resources to implement the solutions." However, there will still be plenty of point solutions sold as well, especially for reporting, data integration, analytics, mining and making scorecards.

The increasing "customer centricity" of businesses. "Based on our experience, in industries where there is a higher customer centricity like airlines, retail, banking, healthcare and telecom the need of analytic CRM, data mining and predictive analytics, operations research driven analytic methods and off the shelf analytic CRM solutions will be the key."

Emphasis on performance management and financial performance management, versus simply "reporting". Ramanan observes that "across all verticals, the need of performance management solutions will continue to hold steam. There will continue to be need of more budgeting solutions, expense control tools, consolidated balance sheet analyzers and tools ( like EVA, six sigma, balance score card) that assist a better performing organization."

Pre-built analytics. "Usage of prefabricated data models, data marts, mining algorithms directly meeting the customer need to jump-start the analytic process will continue to see a growing trend," Ramanan predicts. "However, based on our experience, barring a few industries, this market is still three to five years away. The biggest impediments to prebuilt analytics are existing BI infrastructure, best of breed tools, lack of understanding of cost benefit of such solutions and lack of maturity in available applications barring a few vendors."

Globalization, shrinking business cycles, and increasing competitive pressures are placing demands on business managers to make faster and better decisions. Managers require both real-time visibility into their business operations and sophisticated analytical tools to help them navigate the increasingly fast paced and complex business environment.

Michael Dortch

Michael Dortch is a veteran information entrepreneur and information technology (IT) industry analyst, consultant, speaker, writer, evangelist and provocateur. He has been striving to empower buyers, sellers and users of IT solutions since 1979. Seriously! ;-)

Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is an author and independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. View more

Madan Sheina

Madan Sheina is principal analyst within Ovum's Software Applications group and is based in Northern California.

Madan has fifteen years' experience working in the IT industry both as an analyst and a journalist. His research covers a range of information management technologies, with a sharp focus on business intelligence, knowledge management and data integration software.

Madan is well respected in the IT industry for his clear, incisive and no-nonsense analysis style. He has advised leading ISVs on market positioning and product development strategy, IT users on product evaluation and selection, and the financial investment community on technology trends. View more


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