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July 2013

BI democratization could mean big value

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The many trends shaping the business intelligence world are all meant to accomplish the same general end: Employees want to make better informed decisions, and they have discovered that some combination of internal and external data can yield the answer. While business intelligence stayed relatively unchanged during its first few years of existence, recent months have seen a wave of new developments. IT leaders now have access to policies that could suit their exact needs and help their companies gain an edge over industry rivals. They need to study these advancements carefully and select ones that make both strategic and financial sense.

Everyone has data access
According to Information Age contributor Tom Pringle, there is a movement afoot to let business needs take the lead when it comes to running BI programs. This would be a change from keeping all analytics operations within the IT department. He stated that users outside of IT are becoming better equipped, both in terms of the affordable hardware they now have access to and their knowledge of how much data can do for them. He also explained that consumerized technology is catching on, meaning that the tools employees use in their everyday lives could now become part of a corporate effort to manage information.

Pringle predicted that IT tools designed to give self-service BI capacity to non-expert employees will grow in adoption faster than business intelligence itself. He explained that software designed to appeal to non-IT workers should provide dashboards that engage workers visually. Consumer software giants like Apple have realized the power of good design and, as BI becomes more widely-used, this trend may spill over into the professional market. Pringle did have a few warnings about the use of such strategies, though – he explained that there may be some confusion or conflict about the direction of new BI programs if they are outside the bounds of traditional development.

One of many trends
Of course, self service is not the only force currently making itself felt in the business intelligence market. Tools are being sold through the cloud, meaning deployment is quicker and more flexible than ever. These new interfaces and strategies are also being directed at a far wider pool of possible information resources than ever before. "Big data" is the watchword of the day, with a great deal of effort being expended to turn unstructured data into a possible source of insight. The key goal of such projects is predictive analytics capability.

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