Earlier this month, Forrester's Boris Evelson gave his top ten predictions for business intelligence for the coming year. Some of them bear repeating, some bear further reaction and clarification. What is clear is that this space is poised to take off, with just the right mix of products and innovation.
- More end-user empowerment of self-service BI tools.One of the reasons that BI hasn't become as household an app as the average spreadsheet is that it was never really designed for self-service. I can remember working back in the early days of the PC for a large insurance company where we were gung-on on Information Builders' Focus, which they now call BI but back then was labeled as a fourth generation programming tool. It was the farthest thing from self-service you could think of: people had to take year-long classes to learn how to use its basic functions. Many of the BI tools have come a long way since then, but they are still too hard to learn. Evelson is right in saying, "Finding the right win-win combination that combines the flexibility and agility that self-service brings with behind-the-scenes monitoring and adjusting will become the name of the game."
- More mobile BI. Completely agree. We are starting to see mobile device management tools combine with some primitive BI type functionality. This is a natural and we'll see more of this next year. As more knowledge workers get iPads and other tablets, they will have the needed screen real estate to do some productive things with these tools too.
- Living with Big Data in the enterprise. Ditto. There will be some interesting intersections among the traditional BI tools and the NoSQL/Big Data/cloud services tools. It will spread from single line-of-business departments that can figure out how to use Big Data effectively and then finally enter the IT department in many corporations as a corporate standard. A few years from now all data will be Big and we will wonder why we made such a fuss over it.
- Better email and collaboration integration with BI tools. I think this is a big win but will take some time. And why email integration is still lacking is just frustrating. Just look at all the enterprise-grade collaboration tools that are out there now, and it seems a new one is invented every day. Until this market settles down a bit, the integration will lag. Cisco is poised to show some leadership here (after all the collaboration vendors they have been buying over the past couple of years), and even IBM might have a break out hit if they can effectively communicate their value-add.