When studies and experts declare that the business intelligence (BI) market has experienced a resurgence, they really should include a qualifier.
While technically true, the reemergence of BI solutions has been driven by technological innovations, many of which are completely different than traditional tools.
"The major investments in large-scale operational systems – ERP, CRM and SCM – over the past decades have given major benefits in terms of process efficiency, but they have not alleviated the need for better management information to steer the business," said Philip Carnelley, research director at Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC).
A recent study from PAC found that the business intelligence market is worth more than $42 billion, reported Channelnomics, and it's projected to grow at about 7 percent annually over the next four years. At the same time, Carnelley emphasized that the sector is undergoing a transition period, during which purchases are shifting "from one-stop shopping with ERP vendors to best of breed to get state-of-the-art solutions."
"Keep a watching brief on the emergence of both big data technologies and in-memory computing. These are developing fast, but still immature and will require new skills and investment," Carnelley said.
The new BI: Meeting specific goals
In the past, larger systems like ERP were popular for theie ability to store large amounts of information and provide decision-makers with unprecedented insight regarding data. However, achieving success with ERP was often a long and expensive process, and the low success rates were enough to make any leader question investing in the technology.
Business intelligence, on the other hand, has the ability to fulfill very specific goals. Rather than overhauling an entire system, companies can deploy some of these new BI solutions that cater to mission-critical needs.
In a recent blog post for PMLiVE, Data Intelligence managing director Mike Askew discussed some of the components of successful BI plans. For one thing, newer solutions like big data have the ability to store much larger amounts of information, which will be important with the rise of cloud computing, mobile and social media platforms.
But more and more, companies are discovering that BI's capabilities extend well beyond that. For instance, as Askew pointed out, the technology can provide relevant data in real time regarding "local conditions such as markets, supply chains, reimbursement statuses, business structures and other local rules."
In other words, BI tools can accomplish most or all of what old-school ERP systems were supposed to, without the high risk of failure.