Future of Business Intelligence

Future of Business IntelligenceBusiness Intelligence solutions have become an important tool in enabling companies to make smart, data-driven decisions.

But what’s next for BI?

How will the technology evolve and continue to drive value in a rapidly changing big data world?

Leveraging Unstructured Data

eWeek’s Chris Preimesberger reports at least 80% of all data is unstructured according to IDC and Forrester findings.

Unstructured data includes any information that is not easily categorized, like emails, documents, images, videos, and sounds.

And that can create problems. Most BI tools struggle to handle unstructured data. That means that an overwhelming percentage of data out there remains unanalyzed.

In the near future, technologies will grow to make this information available and actionable. Ideas in development include:

  • Hardware architecture consist of groups of community servers which provide the speed needed for parallel processing of massive amounts of unstructured data.
  • Analytics applications architecture that can organize and analyze the data where it exists, rather than moving it into a central location.
  • A data architecture that is “nonrelational,” or easily scalable, only partly structured, and is not heavily populated. NoSQL databases are one example.

A future where BI can analyze emails for advanced insights is not that distant.

Rise of Prescriptive Analytics

That sci-fi inspired future where machines do all the work and humans watch from the sidelines? It’s not that far off.

In fact, it’s already here. It’s called prescriptive analytics.

It’s the natural progression of predictive analytic tools, which use data from the past to identify trends and make guesses about the future.

Prescriptive analytics take predictive tools a step further by recommending actionable steps for business users based on insights. More than just providing information, prescriptive analytics will tell you what to do with that information.


The term “prescriptive analytics” was first coined in 2003. The product already has use cases in various markets, including healthcare, oil and gas, and retail. And it’s an impact that going to continue to grow.

“Prescriptive analytic solutions that apply BI and Predictive capabilities to such areas as customer intelligence, fraud and asset optimization will become prominent in the future,” says David Marmer, VP Products, BI & Growth Initiatives, IBM Software Group.

Prescriptive tools are being called the next evolution of analytics. Categories include:

  • Data mining
  • Machine learning
  • Game theory
  • Simulation
  • Decision-analysis methods

One thing that currently limits the scope of prescriptive analytics is unstructured data.

As vendors find more ways to analyze texts, images, and videos – that 80% chunk – prescriptive recommendations will become more accurate and widespread.

Simplifying the User Experience

Simplicity, speed, and ease of access.

Each of these three traits will define the growth of business intelligence into the foreseeable future.

“2015 will see significant progress toward making all data more accessible to the business people who need it, and an empowerment of data teams with new tools to provide these experiences, the result of which will provide the last mile of value out of their data,” Looker CEO Frank Bien says.

Increasingly, BI will give average end-users the capability to achieve what only advanced data scientists could achieve until recently.

Do it Yourself

Software AG vice president John Crupi calls this the “Do Everything Yourself” incarnation of BI.

“As we know DIY is the mantra of dashboard building thanks to Tableau, being able to do soup-to-nuts yourself is really the wave of the future. Especially, when it comes to the millennials.”

Crupi sees the user interface being completely innovated. Soon, users may be building real-time dashboards based on Spark analytics without ever know or caring where the data is actually being processed.

And they’ll be doing it from their iPad.

Agile BI

An improvement in technology, and the passage of time, have made advanced data visualization and data discovery products widely available for the first time.

“Agile” BI, especially platforms relying on in-memory processing, will attain a commanding presence in the marketplace. Platforms which focus on developing speedy insights will soon outstrip their competitors.

Finally, cloud and mobile BI products are letting end-users access their information on-the-go. The cloud BI market is expected to grow to $2.94 billion by 2018, according to Red Cap Group.

“This combination has spurred BI’s departure from the backrooms of IT departments and placed its capabilities in the front offices and pockets of end users, providing an unmatched potential to access insights on-demand from anywhere,” writes Jelani Harper, industry analyst with Dataversity.

Future Use Cases

New technologies and trends will spawn increased adoption in given sectors of the market.

But what exactly will these changes look like? What are some real life examples of how companies – and business – will be changed by BI and big data in the coming years?

Below are four key use cases identified by the industry experts and thought leaders at the helm of the next generation of business intelligence.

Seamless User Experience

Analytics solutions must integrate with other tools in order to become the standard.

Use case: Many companies use Salesforce for CRM, for instance. But while they live inside Salesforce, a lot of their data and metrics do not. As analytics gets more integrated, though, you can use Salesforce for CRM, use a tool like Tableau for analytics, bring the Salesforce data into Tableau, then also use the links in the analytics to jump right back into Salesforce.

For a salesperson or any end user, the experience will be seamless.

Ellie Fields
VP of Product Marketing


Fundamentally Changing Healthcare

In regards to the health care industry opportunity, if done correctly, the wellness and health care industry can totally reinvent itself into a real-time people health sensor network. I’m not talking about fitness monitors, but rather wearable sensors that monitor glucose, blood pressure, hydration, temperature, pulse, electrocardiography (EKG) and anything else that can provide a picture of a person’s health trend.

The word “trend” is used to emphasize that we are analyzing a series of human telemetry over time to identify and predict outcomes. Imagine being able to predict and alert you to an upcoming heart arrhythmia based on your behavior. The behavior that triggers your heart arrhythmia may be based solely on your history, or based on analyzing millions of others with your condition to create the most accurate predictions; or a combination of both. Just like we don’t like the “break-fix” pattern of machines, we especially don’t like the “break-fix” pattern of people.

John Crupi
VP & CTO of Visual Analytics
Software AG

BI Creating Centers of Excellence

As more data becomes more easily available we will continue to see a shift from BI being used just to interpret and represent data and more towards BI also acting as a “center of excellence” – a way to keep relevant and powerful data quickly accessible and shareable.

We are reaching the point where companies can no longer allow different data streams to be sent in different directions where the majority of the insight is lost in the shuffle. Interactive Edge has had phenomenal success in using XP3 to create Insight Libraries and dynamic presentations and reports – tripling their client’s productivity and effectiveness.

Zel Bianco
Founder & CEO
Interactive Edge

Start of Big Data Cultures

With early adopters of Big Data solutions already seeing real ROI on their investments, 2015 is the year that Big Data moves beyond hype and becomes an established facet of company operations. As a result, technology buyers will be more selective regarding the vendors they engage with. Businesses will look to those vendors that have an actual track record of delivering measurable results with Big Data. The time for vendors making promises of potential future returns is over.

Sandy Steier

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