While 2011 was a great year for Business Intelligence, I think that 2012 will be even greater as many new technologies that gained a foothold in 2011 become mainstream and even more exciting BI solutions emerge.
It is becoming more apparent than ever that the leading BI companies of four years ago (Business Objects, Cognos and Hyperion) having been taken over by bigger software application companies (SAP, IBM and Oracle) are losing their leadership position in BI innovation as most of their BI product development effort is focused inwardly to better integrate with their respective owners applications to take advantage of easier sales within their own customer base. They have almost become “legacy BI” solutions along with Microsoft who is quickly falling into the same category. As many industry analysts predicted at the time of these acquisitions, this has made room for new startup companies to fill the void left behind. So during these past few years , we have seen the meteoric rise of Apple with its mobile solutions, Saleforce with its phenomenal cloud based CRM application and Qliktech with its high speed, fast deployment BI solutions.
The BI landscape continues to change at an ever-accelerating pace and I am sure we will be looking at many new names, unheard of today, in a year’s time. In the meantime, here are my top 5 BI predictions for 2012 :
Prediction 1: Mobile Business Intelligence will start to dominate over conventional business intelligence as companies will demand mobility as a compulsory feature. Mobile workforces will start to replace laptops with iPads (which will be the tablet of choice for businesses in 2012) as more useful and compelling BI solutions are developed for mobile devices. Companies like Mellmo, with Roambi (www.roambi.com), are already well positioned to take advantage of this trend but other strong competitors will emerge in the coming year as more BI dashboard solutions go mobile.
Prediction 2: Cloud based BI applications will propagate like wildfire and the race is on as to who, if anyone, will dominate this space. The question is do any of the BI vendors have the execution capability and the vision to do what Microsoft did to dominate the PC software business or Amazon did to dominate the on-line retail space – namely drop the price so low (or even free) to gain market share at the cost of profit? If not, watch out for iCloud or Google making a play for this huge BI opportunity.
Prediction 3: BI dashboards will continue to thrive but there will be more trend towards Operational BI rather than Strategic BI in 2012. As the capabilities for alerting, write back, connectivity to all types of applications (cloud, internet, on premise, mobile and machine interface) continue to expand, the possibilities and demand for operational BI with dashboard interfaces will too.
Prediction 4: “Big Data” wars will drive more demand for BI. With IBM leading the pack and SAP and Oracle not far behind, I predict a battle on an Exabyte scale as they and others compete as to who can analyze the most data in the fastest time and push it into meaningful BI solutions. The good news for businesses is that this will drive the price of BI tools down (as will the competition from Cloud and Mobile BI solutions).
Prediction 5: Business Intelligence for Web and Social Media content will be super-hot in 2012. The demand to perform BI against unstructured data sources from the web and use BI tools to analyze and visualize will go beyond conventional marketing applications and become an invaluable asset in all areas of business. (Of course, this was the prediction I did not score myself well on in 2011 so I want to go further out on the limb with it this year!).
So let’s see what happens. I am certainly pumped up and excited to see how BI will continue to evolve this year. It is a safe prediction to say that it will evolve for sure but it is usually the unpredictable direction that keeps us (especially me) on our toes. Enjoy the ride.