A few weeks ago, I attended a packed 2012 Gartner Business Intelligence Summit and I have to admit, it continues to be my favorite enterprise software event of the year.
I've been to hundreds of events around the globe and the Gartner BI Summit continues to prove its worth. It's not every event that, in three days, gives you a complete look into the state of the enterprise software market--and, even more relevant to me, the state of an ever- growing business intelligence market.
As I sat through the analyst and vendor sessions, I tried my best to capture the growing market trends as well as prominent hype cycles. I had quite a lot of information to pull from, but as I poured through my notes, what become clear were the seven wonders I wanted to share. Everything from what's rocking to what's not is included in my seven wonders of BI.
DATA DISCOVERY, SELF-SERVICE & DASHBOARDS
First, the data discovery guys (Tibco Spotfire, QlikTech and Tableau) are really rockin'. The sector is hot and customers really love the ease of use and do-it-yourself capabilities. But what makes this technology so hot is the growing trend of self-service. It proves to me, and the millions of companies who have invested in data discovery tools, that traditional BI is just not cutting it. It's simple: The business wants new generation tools to augment their BI portfolios so they can build their own decision support dashboards.
Next, self-service is no longer an outlier; it's becoming the norm, especially in BI. It's made sense for years, but the market just wasn't ready. But today, the business will no longer wait for IT to build everything. If they can get their hands on tools easy and powerful enough for the business to do-it-themselves, then they'll do just that. Self-service doesn't mean you can do everything yourself; it means you can do more yourself. And if technology and users continue at this pace, then the "more" you can do will grow dramatically. I know some might have never thought users would be able to analyze hundreds of millions of records without the help of a data warehouse team--but they are doing so, and it's time to recognize the self-service BI approach.
Third, dashboards are becoming the new "pixel-perfect" report. Remember Crystal Reports and all the fuss about their unique pixel-perfect quality? Well, that's now dashboards, except today's dashboards are directly connected to live enterprise systems and applications. These dashboards must be as aesthetically appealing as their pixel-perfect PDF counterparts.
This also means dashboards are no longer just for executives and individual analysis; they are now the new live analytics, reporting and briefing tool. Some organizations even run live, real-time dashboards on large-screen monitors throughout their headquarters so customers can see what's happening. One thing that hasn't changed: When there are customers involved, beauty matters.
Fourth, everyone is betting on tablets (iPads, to be exact). Tablets are becoming the poster child for mobile BI. But, I don't believe it's the tablet-enabled BI reports that will be the hit. I predict it's the "new BI" like real-time operational BI dashboards that give users immediate operational intelligence directly tying to business impact. I know sales reports look great on an iPad, but if I can see my manufacturing dashboards with up-to-the-minute information that includes my supplier's real-time delivery status wherever I am and whenever I need it, then that's a game-changer.
'BUSINESS REAL-TIME,' BIG DATA & BI BUDGETS
Fifth, in the past few years I've heard very little about "real-time BI", or real-time anything for that matter. Last year, I heard one of my favorite Gartner analysts, Roy Schulte, speak about real-time operational intelligence in the form of complex event processing (CEP) and business activity monitoring (BAM), which is very IT-centric. This year, his real-time operational intelligence talk didn't mention CEP or BAM once! It was all business value.
I'm betting real-time is more about the business, not the technology--which probably has to do with the fact that information is constantly changing and the decision window continues to compress. Where the business used to be able to wait a few months or a few weeks, now they need information as it happens so they can make real-time decisions. That's something I like to call "business real-time."
Sixth, "big data" is everywhere, and it seems to be in every BI vendor's booth, too. But I noticed something interesting. At one of the full-conference sessions, the question was asked; "Will you be buying a big-data solution this year?" Amazingly, only a few of the thousands of attendees raised their hands. I have to admit, I was a bit perplexed (as was the analyst). How could something with so much hype have so little "buying" interest from the BI community? It may be due to one or all of these possibilities:
- --Companies aren't buying big-data products, but rather using open source to do it themselves.
- --The BI community polled is not the buyer of big-data solutions. Although big data has been co-opted under the BI moniker, it's actually very different from traditional BI, which may be the reason many big data solutions are being built (and bought) by non-BI groups within an organization.
- --Big data is still very much in the hype cycle and there may not be as much buying as there is dabbling.
Finally, the BI budget is shifting from IT to the line-of-business, which makes perfect sense to me. Now that the line-of-business is sick of dumping everything into Excel and they've gotten a taste of DIY with Qliktech and Tableau, this saying reigns true: "The more you get, the more you want." If the line-of-business can do data discovery themselves, why not do more BI, such as real-time, SaaS and even big data analytics themselves. So what does all this mean? The line-of-business can "buy" BI themselves.
That's my quick-and-dirty synopsis. Be on the lookout: Everything is pointing toward a big resurgence in BI. We may not see the hockey-stick growth in 2012, but I'm predicting we'll definitely see it in 2013. Where do you see the business intelligence market going in the year to come?