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What's ahead for Business Intelligence?
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What's ahead for Business Intelligence?

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The question is: will business intelligence morph into a more active and reactive solution?

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  • It's not coming, as in the "Future"! It's already here. Many companies have implemented Business Intelligence solutions for some years now for Sales and Financial Analysis. One of the things they are realizing is that looking at BI is like looking in the rear-view mirror while trying to drive. You need to look through the windshield and notice that 2000 lb buck darting across the highway!

    Active and reactive business intelligence in the form of Business Activity Monitoring, Process management, Real-time dashboards, reports are all already here in various forms!

  • I think specially we’re looking at reacting without human intervention. For instance, operationally ordering more inventory when it’s low. Or, strategically, cutting a vendor loose due to poor performance. Not sure we’re there yet, but getting close.

  • Open Source and freeware BI and reporting. Given the state of the economy, and the need to deliver new and insightful information without breaking the bank, individuals and organizations are seeking new ways to polish and publish information. Products like the BIRT design tool from birt-exchange.com (open source) and e.Spreadsheet designer (freeware) are putting the power of BI into individuals' hands. Where qualifications for use are Excel, or Macromedia, and some SQL knowledge. These tools not only help you keep your job, the give you skills for your next one.

  • Helping people in organizations to be more responsive (reactive) to changes in business conditions has long been a strength of BI tools - delivered in the form of interactive reports and analytics and, more recently, performance-based dashboards. Now the technologies required to enable proactive and automated system-to-system interaction are available. Complex event processing and business activity monitoring tools combined with more modern, embeddable, web 2.0-enabled business intelligence tools form a rich new layer for intelligent event management. Should make the next 5 years in BI a lot more interesting than the last 5.

  • Of course vendors naturally jump to answering this question in terms of their unique selling position - unfortunately it's always from the technology angle. I don't think the future of BI is about open source or SaaS (although these certainly do make the technology more readily available and ideally easier to implement and use). I don' think it's about real-time dashboards or performance (although from an operational perspective, these are critical to day-to-day adoption). In his annual predictions post, Ken Rudin zeroed in on the importance of data interpretation to BI success:
    "To keep their customers happy and make sure they’re getting value, in 2009 vendors will begin providing some type of service to get people started with an understanding of the metrics that matter, and highlight best practice analytics to accelerate their business performance."
    I my opinion, the sooner we can get away from always talking about BI technology and bring it back to actual decision support the better.

  • I think that the most authentic way to sell BI is probably not the most effective way, at least in the short run. When you talk to companies that have mature, useful BI implementations, the common thread that runs through them is, it takes time. Techies believe that can crush something in six weeks and participants think they know what they need. But BI is subject to the Observer Effect - when you examine those initial requirements, you change them. So BI is really a long term program and it takes a while to take useful form. Now it is possible to hit some low-hanging fruit, but the real trick is to implement a sustainable, enhanceable, cost-effective solution that becomes part of the fabric and culture of the organization. -Neil Raden

  • Innovations over the next couple of years will greatly expand the current definition of BI to include data protection and use management. Some advances will manifest themselves as automated decision making and ease of use which will bring data business owners (rather than just technical personnel) in the data handling loop. Imagine for instance, applications that let data owners know when it is time to review data access entitlements, delete or archive data and that can generate alerts on anomalous access patterns.

  • A key missing element of BPM and BI is actually right there on the users desktop! It's difficult to garner any intelligence from the Myriad of systems without collecting what a user is doing - and I mean, really doing, 24x7. Hand a workflow off to a user from the BPM system and for the most part, that BPM system is out of the loop. Desktop Event Monitoring is finally here to close that loop on enterprise BI gathering!

    I would guess, 50% or more of any intelligence is lost because what a user does, is not captured. My 2 cents.

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