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8 Compelling Business Intelligence Trends in 2014

By on Aug 28, 2014 Editor's Pick 5 Comments

Business Intelligence  implementations are driven by a variety of immediate business needs and long-range strategic goals. Organizations in pursuit of operational excellence are often motivated to promote data-driven decision making. Just as often, the move to establish or enhance the BI platform is driven by a recognition of gaps in current analytic capabilities, where information that should be readily available is too hard to obtain. Today, Top Performers are turning to BI as a source of competitive advantage. Superior operational efficiency, increased customer satisfaction, and improved planning provide the foundation for Top Performing success in 2014. Interestingly, only 34% of All Other organizations (compared with 78% of Top Performers) believe BI provides a unique competitive advantage. In this context, BI “informs” decisions, but managers are still relying on gut feel. If business leaders can’t trust the quality of available data it is difficult to showcase the value in aggregated insights.

BI Trends to Watch in 2014

BI Trends to Watch in 2014

At the high end, the BI market is dominated by a few large enterprise software vendors who (SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, MicroStrategy, SAS, IBM) continue to round out their analytical portfolios. Despite that, BI continues to see innovation from smaller players promoting deeper insights by vertical or function (analytics for expense management or health care costs, for example), advanced visualization techniques, and new modes of delivery (SaaS, mobile). Software as a Service BI is attracting attention from small businesses, and as an alternate deployment mode for larger ones, but shows no signs of taking over the BI market wholesale over the next few years. That said, cloud computing continues to uproot traditional models in CRM and ERP, so we would be remiss not to mention the potential for change in BI. Limited BI resources still spend significantly more time maintaining hardware and managing software upgrades than deriving insights for business users. It seems only likely that the total cost of ownership of traditional on-premise solutions may force the entire industry into cloud based offerings for competitive parity.

2014 FLASH Vendor Rankings for Business Intelligence

2014 BI Vendor Rankings

Click here to view the FLASH vendor rankings for BI

From an innovation standpoint, a handful of trends stood out in the data including continued demand for visual data discovery, cloud computing, mobile BI, ease of use, and self-service BI. These will continue to shape the adoption of BI in 2015. Most notably, respondents reported their organization had invested in an average of 2-3 different BI software tools. This challenges the notion that even the most robust BI platforms are capable of delivering a one-size-fits-all offering. The current BI market is peppered with unique offerings that are compelling enough for buyers to seek multiple BI solutions to address their needs. This trend leads to a handful of different hypotheses.

  • Business users don’t have access to existing BI tools or the expertise to use them
  • Data necessary for insights isn’t available centrally in tools that are linked to BI – business users want autonomy to analyze data that may be unique to their group or role
  • Support for BI is fragmented and closely tied to business functions – leading to separate investments (and budget)
  • Existing tools are lacking in some way
  • Business users don’t have access to existing BI tools or the expertise to use them
  • Data necessary for insights isn’t available centrally in tools that are linked to BI – business users want autonomy to analyze data that may be unique to their group or role
  • Support for BI is fragmented and closely tied to business functions – leading to separate investments (and budget)
  • Existing tools are lacking in some way

Bottom line, themes like simplicity and self-service are phenomenal signs that the prevalence of BI is expanding in organizations. This is ushering in a new age of data-driven decision making that will continue to transform the industry from an innovation standpoint.

For buyers this is leading to increased competitive pressures among vendors, which will likely manifest itself in more competitive pricing. When investing in technology, your evaluation process should account for how the offering fits your business needs, not the other way around. The vendors are going to lose some control in the buying process as buyers weigh alternative offerings that may not map 1:1 to the buyers’ short-list alternatives.

The current vendor landscape also opens the door to BI in small and midsize organizations that have been largely underserved by solutions that were too complex or too expensive to adopt. At present, the industry is undergoing a series of changes akin to what we saw when Apple launched the iPod. While not the first mp3 player on the market, the iPod proved to be the simplest and most innovative approach for widespread adoption. Similar trends are happening in BI. Simplicity, ease of use, mobile access, cloud access, and self-service will likely offer capabilities that have existed in suite solutions for years, but in a ways that are so accessible and easy it makes more robust solutions obsolete or inappropriate. At the same time, this should open the door to a larger population of more sophisticated buyers in the future who will ultimately be capable of extracting the full value from more robust BI offerings.

Raw Data from the 2014 Business Intelligence FLASH Vendor Rankings

If you are wondering what goes into these rankings, the Gleanster methodology is completely transparent and even the raw data can be ranked and sorted based on your criteria.

Raw BI FLASH Vendor Ranking Data

Raw BI FLASH Vendor Ranking Data

Check out the full Gleansight Benchmark report on Business Intelligence for a comprehensive analysis of each vendor and the space.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

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5 Responses to 8 Compelling Business Intelligence Trends in 2014

  1. Pat Hennel September 19, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    “Business users don’t have access to existing BI tools or the expertise to use them”

    At the end of the day, most users are not IT people. It’s sales managers, financial teams, procurement professionals, and so forth. But if those people don’t have access to the data or don’t know how to pull the reports they need to do their job better what’s the point?

  2. Ian Michiels September 19, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    Pat, I think you touch upon a very real trend that we are seeing in the market and something quite a few companies that invest considerable time, effort, and money into BI tools ask themselves “What’s the point?”

    When the number two challenge with BI investments is “getting managers to use data over “gut decisions” (according to 85% of Top Performers – and 59% of these firms have used BI for over 5 years) you really have to start asking some tough questions.

    We all know that the business users are not IT people. True, if users don’t have data or can’t pull reports what’s the point? The point is that’s the wrong question to ask – especially for a BI provider.

    The fundamental question we should be asking is what percentage of business stakeholders SHOULD be using BI on a regular basis and aren’t. The data suggests that eight times out of ten, business decisions are made without even asking for empirical research to support the decision – that means most of the time nobody is asking experienced “BI users” to go do what they know how to do best.

    In order for BI to play a more strategic role, more individuals need exposure to the benefits and best practices around “data driven decisions” so they value asking for analytical support in decision making. I wouldn’t focus so much on the tiny subset of users who already know how to use BI, but rather the massive market for users who don’t.

  3. Joerg Decker September 27, 2014 at 3:59 am #

    Hi Ian,
    referring to “Simplicity, ease of use, mobile access, cloud access, and self-service will likely offer capabilities that have existed in suite solutions for years, but in a ways that are so accessible and easy it makes more robust solutions obsolete or inappropriate” I think that’s absolutely true. There are more and more new solutions challenging the traditional vendors. Also ours http://www.densio.com started a few days ago. Focused on mid-sized companies and to make mobile BI as simple as other consumer applications, we are 100% self-service and of course without any IT. We try our best to be part of the vendor ranking next time.

  4. Twain October 8, 2014 at 4:27 am #

    About “advanced visualization techniques, and new modes of delivery” I’d like to mention that there’s a slew of apps focussing on mobile BI. I’m talking about apps like https://www.razorflow.com/, http://roambi.com/, and http://www.microstrategy.com/ which include advanced dashboards, real-time updates, and theme managers. These apps are the future of BI.

  5. Eran Levy October 20, 2014 at 1:51 am #

    I think there’s a lot of truth to this article (as well as the comments), mainly in that BI is really leaving the realm of IT and becoming something that most mid-managers, VPs and CEOs need access to. Since in most organizations the majority of these positions aren’t filled by technical individuals, many vendors have started marketing their software as ‘self-service’. While the appeal is obvious, these promises for self-service don’t always go beyond marketing fluff.

    The ultimate question is – when the business user sits down in front of the software, will he or she know how to operate it? Will it be simple and intuitive enough for them to WANT to do so?

    Read more here: http://www.sisense.com/blog/9-questions-determine-bi-solution-truly-self-service/

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