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What is the State of Innovation in Business Intelligence?

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Nari Kannon: With talk of consolidation of companies in the Business Intelligence space, there is talk of innovation dying. However, are we seeing BI niches like Visualization thriving and smaller companies doing well? What is the state of innovation in Business Intelligence?

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  • Innovation is alive and well again in BI and it is just not on the technology front. Cloud computing, SaaS and open source software are changing the business models this time as well. Organizations can now look embrace new BI projects AND reduce the capital expense and "risk" associated with implementing them.

    For the BI implementers, it’s all about quick wins and rapid proof points garner continued support from their business communities.

    IT still faces the challenge of data integrity, security and governess but new technologies have emerged that support these needs as well allowing secure data integration and collaborate across the enterprise and extended business ecosystem.

    Exciting times for the future of BI.

  • There is so much room for innovation in the business intelligence space, that I can't even begin to scratch the surface. So, lets look at just a few trends:

    Collaboration – It’s no longer just one person looking at a report, a chart, a prediction, or an analysis. Introducing social collaboration into business intelligence will give users a chance to work together to better understand what is really going on in the business. Some insights will even come from customers, partners and others outside the organization. Look at how social networking sites like LinkedIn or Facebook are being used by various groups to collaborate with each other and their constituencies more effectively. This will also will become the norm in business intelligence.

    Web, Mobile Analytics and BI -- Google may be king in the low cost web analytics world, but new players like real-time analytics player ChartBeat (www.chartbeat.com ) are showing that new forms of innovation can challenge a king in more ways that you can currently imagine. The same goes for mobile analytic players like Bango (www.bango.com ). These are examples of companies who are also innovating in ease-of-use and simplicity for a fast and growing market for web and mobile analytics.

    Location and Geospatial Intelligence -- One of the most interesting innovations in BI I've seen in a while is from a company called Spatial Key. The website is www.spatialkey.com and it has a very compelling set of demos to explore. We are now surrounded by maps – everything from GPS in our cars, to information on our iPhones, and we are tracking lots and lots of data by location. In addition, companies like Safe Software (wow, nice name) has been tackling the integration of spatial data for quite some time with success, and is quite unique in the industry. We are now only seeing the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to compelling technologies like Spatial Key. I expect that more and more innovative geo spatial functionality will show up in the context of business intelligence solutions.

  • I would add to Bob's comment on collaboration that the emergence of SaaS BI has not only facilitated collaboration between users, but has also created collaboration between the users and the product vendor.

    Upgrades to SaaS applications are quick and easy and can be done daily if the vendor wants. A sensible SaaS provider will have their ear to the ground all the time and be constantly building in the feedback they receive. If someone tweets about a bug in the software one morning, the manufacturer can have the software fixed and updated by the afternoon. This can make the development process a collaborative one between the maker and the user.

    When development comes as evolution directed and driven by the end user, I believe we will continue to see huge innovation in how BI is delivered and what it can do.

  • Alive and Kicking. Infact I will go to the extent of saying that we now have "A Perfect Storm" moment for innovation in the BI space. In general, a disruptive moment in any domain is predicted when there are changes to core assets and/or core activities in that domain. And, any disruptive moment is a perfect situation for innovation to thrive.

    With the advent of DW appliances, Column major datastores, Cloud based BI platforms, Virtualization, Open source BI and many more such new developments, the core technology assets in a BI landscape is changing drastically in shape and form.

    On the core activities front, the traditional notion of hardwired data integration programs to collate data into data repositories (Data Warehouses / Data Marts) for consumption by reporting platforms is also being put to test. Data mashups, Management of Unstructured data, Information as a Service (IaaS), Enterprise Information Integration (EII), Packaged BI, Simulations etc. are creating new avenues for Information management in an organization.

    Added to the mix is the increasing clamor to manage enterprises by numbers, globalized markets, ubiquitous ERPs and you have an almost perfect situation for Innovation in BI.

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