Seven Business Intelligence Predictions for 2012

Drew Robb

Updated · Jan 05, 2012

Business Intelligence vendors are always talking about the improved analytics inside their software/systems. Perhaps one day we will reach the point where those products can accurately predict the coming year. Until then, here is our best guess.

Fight for the Right to BI

Boris Evelson, an analyst at Forrester Research, says users will continue to fight for their right to business intelligence in the coming year. Users and business units, he said, will make further progress in the war of attrition against IT departments who prefer to stay in control of organizational software rollouts. “More BI will move into the hands of end users,” wrote Evelson in a recent blog post. “IT will learn not to fight it or risk becoming irrelevant. It’s all about getting things done.”

Where’s the Remote?

Decentralization is a trend that goes hand in hand with added user power. While remote business intelligence has been talked up for a couple of years now, 2012 is the year it will go mainstream.  “One needs to make decisions when and where they need to be made, not ‘when I get back to the office,’ which may be too late,” Evelson wrote.

Big Data Gets Really Big

Business intelligence must rise to the challenge of analyzing the exabytes of information that now exist in computer systems. That means plenty of action on the update front, plenty of room for startups addressing this area, and some acquisitions by the big boys to give their applications Big Data smarts.

“Big Data is a much larger stream of new data than ever before, on top of the steadily growing size of existing analyzable data – hence the need for big jumps in architecture scalability,” said Wayne Kernochan, an analyst at Infostructure Associates. “At the same time, this new data should not be automatically dumped into the same data stores as previous generations were – and that means separate handling and an architecture that is flexible enough to mix and match Big Data and traditional analytics as they evolve.”

Cloud Nine

The rise of Big Data inevitably leads to the next trend – cloud-based business intelligence. A need to store huge quantities of information plays right into the hands of a cloud environment. Kernochan pointed out a challenge for BI/analytics: Big Data querying is done at a specific public cloud site, while traditional querying must still be done in the data center. To combine the two sets of analytical insights, users need to determine the best combination of scale-out public cloud and in-house processing

That said, Evelson doesn’t think that cloud business intelligence is quite ready for prime time. “Cloud BI will continue to chip away at on-premises BI, but it’s still a long road ahead,” he wrote in his post. “Heavy customization and integration of enterprise BI platforms, tools and applications done by subject-matter experts and consultants will not go away.”


Up until now, the most you could hope for in terms of business intelligence integration was some linkage with Excel. That enabled spreadsheet printouts and a few charts. Forrester expects that to change rapidly as user power catches hold.  “BI users will start demanding — and vendors will start delivering — BI tools integrated with email and collaboration platforms,” Evelson wrote. “Just integrating BI with Excel is no longer enough.”

The Rise of Open Source BI

Open source BI has been gathering steam over the past year or more. Companies such as JasperSoft, Pentaho, SpagoBI, and Actian have been rolling out features that are taking them ever closer to full functionality.

“Open source software components for all BI functions are now widely available and deliver the level of usability, capability and robustness needed for business critical operations, “ said Chip Nickolett, director of Consulting Services for Actian Ingres. “The open source approach greatly reduces the cost of BI adoption without compromising on functionality or the quality of support available. The lack of license fees means that companies can take a pragmatic approach to deployment, trying out products without making a major financial commitment and without fear of vendor lock-in.”


Despite the best marketing efforts of the big vendors to get companies to centralize on a single business intelligence platform, Forrester expects most organizations to maintain simultaneous usage of several tools. This will likely remain the case until innovation cools down. Until then, no one vendor can hope to keep pace with everything that is going on. “Enterprises will learn to live with multiple BI tools,” Evelson opined in his post. “Forrester client inquiries about how to live with multiple BI tools far exceed inquiries about platform consolidations.”

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  • Drew Robb
    Drew Robb

    Drew Robb is a writer who has been writing about IT, engineering, and other topics. Originating from Scotland, he currently resides in Florida. Highly skilled in rapid prototyping innovative and reliable systems. He has been an editor and professional writer full-time for more than 20 years. He works as a freelancer at Enterprise Apps Today, CIO Insight and other IT publications. He is also an editor-in chief of an international engineering journal. He enjoys solving data problems and learning abstractions that will allow for better infrastructure.

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