Business Intelligence as a system allowing to gather, process, and analyze corporate data (and of course to perform a lot of other useful operations) is an important challenge for many enterprises nowdays. Companies have to significantly increase their efforts in the area of business intelligence to cope with the strong data growth and an increasing number of unstructured data sources. BI managers in companies are required to use the value of diverse information types and forms as fully as possible. That is the main reason why a company needs a powerful and modern BI system.
This article is devoted to the latest business intelligence trends for the year 2013. Taking these priorities into account will help companies improve their customer service, decrease costs and stay up-to-day in the constantly changing world of modern technologies.
Trend 1. Visualization and self-service.
These are two contradictory trials having become important recently. On the one hand, the users of BI systems want to get data presented as clearly as possible. That's why many BI systems use visual analytics showing results of data processing as 3D or even 4D (the fourth dimension is time) diagrams and visualizations. These typically interactive diagrams enable decision-makers to quickly capture what is trending at the market.
On the other hand, another surprising trend is an increasing demand for self-service features in BI systems. Organizing data according to prefefined models or schemes will no longer sufficient for BI users. They want to classify and to analyze their data themselves. That's why a BI system should offer enough technological flexibility to ensure these possibilities. In-memory and Hadoop technologies make steps in this direction. Some providers even offer products allowing users to create their own apps. So, defining an appropriate level of control over corporate data analysis and assessing how exactly IT and human capabilities should be involved is the task of decision-makers now.
However, it should be noticed that self-service features do not mean that BI system usability may be poor now. On the contrary, developing such systems is an additional challenge for software developers. They should create such friendly and easy-to-use systems that users might be able to operate with them and to analyze their data sets without much IT support. That's why these two trends – visualization and self-service – are not as incompatible as it may seem on the first glance. And of course, such handy systems do not replace employees' training for companies.
Trend 2. Mobile BI.
Mobile BI is required. Previously, mobile access to BI systems was a kind of luxury for company's workers. But in the recent years, the staff does not have enough time to return to the office from their appointments and meetings. However, these field and front-line employees have to stay up-to-date and to use BI systems on their smartphones sequentially. Moreover, corporations can not set mobile device standards anymore. Instead, employees use their own mobile devices. That's why BI vendors must support a huge amount of smartphones and tablets. The easiest way of doing this is using HTML5, but the best performance can be achieved with device-native apps. Meanwhile, the first trend should be followed, too. Mobile BI applications should be easy-to-use, visual and phone resources saving.
According to a recent Forrester study, nearly every company already uses mobile BI applications. Another 37 percent plan to start soon.
Trend 3. Processing big unstructured data.
Big and mostly unstructured data like web clips, videos, photos, tweets, Facebook posts etc. are mission-critical in such industries as E-commerce, advertising, and gaming. They provide important insights into latest market trends, help understand and predict customer behavior, and encourage product innovations. That's why big data should be collected, systematized, analyzed and presented in a readable form despite their huge amounts and various forms.
By 2015, almost two thirds of BI solutions may provide advanced analytics capabilities based on the Hadoop framework. According to Gartner, this framework allows an efficient processing of large amounts of unstructured information in a database system. Vendors will have to create BI systems capable to process and analyze unstructured data like social media content, as well as text, video, and audio files. Moreover, a BI system should work with structured and unstructured information simultaneously and compare both kinds of data with each other.
Trend 4. Cloud technologies.
There has been a great deal of talk about cloud technologies recently. Beyond all doubt, cloud solutions are in the forefront of software development progress; and this novelty makes them a "must-have" for almost every project. However, cloud technologies have only 3% of total BI revenues, according to Gartner researchers. And in the future, cloud integration might become an additional development option rather than a product differentiation feature.
Existing problems with integration and customization of cloud solutions will not disappear soon. This technology needs many improvements, eg in the field of data security. The analysts, however, expect a progressive increase of cloud-based BI solutions, though, the breakthrough may not come in 2013. That means that, despite all imperfections, BI vendors have to make their products cloud-ready and cloud-compatible.
As a conclusion, it may be noticed that business intelligence technologies focus on users' needs more than on IT requirements. The main trends of BI systems development – visualization and self-service features and mobile BI applications – aim to ensure a more handy and quick interaction between users and BI systems. Working with large unstructured data will become an integral part of companies' information policy. And wonderful cloud technologies might turn to habitual features of every BI system.