By now, most executives and IT departments are familiar with the improving capabilities of business intelligence (BI) trends, and many are trying to leverage these BI tools for their advantage. A recent Gartner survey revealed that business analytics is the top-rated priority for managers, while a separate study by the company projected that the worldwide BI market will grow rapidly over the next few years.
"BI and analytics have grown to become the fourth-largest application software segment as end users continue to prioritize BI and information-centric projects and spending to improve decision making and analysis," said Dan Sommer, principal research analyst at Gartner.
According to the report, BI revenue will increase 7 percent from 2012 to 2013, to nearly $14 billion, and will exceed the $17 billion mark in 2016. Sommer suggested that "big data will be the key driver for the next economic cycle," as data-as-a-service is expected to mature over the next few years.
Different sectors taking off
Business intelligence tools have been around for awhile, but they have typically been limited to specialists and IT departments. However, several innovations are propelling the advancement of self-service BI.
For example, Gartner labeled the growing amounts of cloud, mobile and social media information as the "Nexus of Forces," finding that data produced by these platforms is spurring much of the BI sector's growth.
"All of a sudden, it is realistic for mobile workers to use BI to make decisions without a support person," Jeff Boehm, vice president for global product marketing at Qlikview, recently told Datamation.
Multiple studies, such as a BI Scorecard survey, have found that approximately a quarter of employees at the average company use BI and data analysis tools. But as the BI Scorecard study indicates, employees throughout different departments are becoming increasingly interested in business intelligence – from financial analysts to executives to sales teams.
"IT should focus on empowering users, not being report writers," Boehm told the news source. "They should get out of the role of the nanny feeding the children. Instead, they need to enable users to use the tool themselves."
In many ways, the Nexus of Forces is driving interest in BI analytics. Sales and customer service teams, for instance, want to use information available via mobile devices and social media to get a better read on their customers. At the same time, employees have come to expect access to company-owned applications on personal laptops, tablets and smartphones – something that cloud computing is making possible.