A new year has begun and yes! It’s going to be another exciting year for BI vendors.

BI & CPM is again the top priority for C level execs. Experts have predicted that there is going to be new data sources, more data types than ever before and an urgent need for smart data analytics.

The New Buzz Word – “The Internet Of Things”

The world as we know is changing rapidly. Very rapidly. This is more so evident for those born in the 60s. Our world today is producing significantly more data than it ever did since the introduction of computers. Even white ware goods are computerised now. Refrigerators, Microwaves, Cooking Ranges. TVs and many more commonly used products are supposedly “internet” ready. Add to this technology like smart Phones, portable drones, driverless cars and much more. Who would’ve thought this was even possible just a decade ago.

There is very little that isn’t available online. Google was and is a search engine, but has become the first point of contact for symptoms of illnesses rather than a General Practitioner. Why? Someone somewhere across the world shared reliable information. We now have access to it for free and can confidently try out a remedy before visiting a real doctor. Self-Service!!

We are now able to make a donation to our favourite charity using our credit card via an app on our smart phone. Another self-service example. Most software applications are available for download via “The Cloud” these days. Yet another example of self-service.

I still remember days when we had staff to help fill our cars at the gas stations. There were plenty of opportunities for customer “dis-satisfaction” depending on how pleasant the staff member was. Change that to self-service, and voila….happy customers.

How about standing in a long queue to withdraw cash at the bank tellers? Frustrating wasn’t it? Introduce self-service through ATMs and problem solved.

More recently, most grocery stores in New Zealand have introduced the self-checkout counters. Another self-service venture eliminating opportunities for service dissatisfaction, reducing workloads on staff and minimising costs all at the same time.

Oracle has estimated that data is growing at 40% compounded annually and would probably reach 45 ZettaBytes (ZB) by 2020. (Isn’t that the last letter in the English alphabet). The prefix Zetta indicates multiplication by the 7th power of 1000. In other words, 1ZB = 1 Sextillion bytes.

What does this mean for Business Intelligence?

Irrespective of the industry, one can safely assume a significant increase in business data. The market dynamics is such that it will drive the demand for more data. This in turn will demand the need for quick and easy analytics. The standard reports will probably reveal “what happened”, but in no way will predict or forecast the implications.

C level execs are increasingly looking for a crystal ball or an automated statistician. The large amount of complicated data has made it impossible to rely on smart business instincts alone. CFOs and CEOs are looking to make well informed “evidence” based decisions.

Here’s a very common conversation in a corporate office. The CFO walks up to the data analyst and asks

CFO: “Can you find out which of our 143 products are the top 10 largest revenue generators in the Southern Territory over this year and which distributor is the largest contributor for each?” And can you please compare that to last year’s figures with a forecast on the next 6 months?”

Data Analyst: When do you need it?

CFO: NOW would be good! “

Sounds amusing to a technical data analyst, but market dynamics have changed. To be relevant, CFO’s and CEOs need analytic insights when needed. The “when” is changing to “real time”.

Historically, there always has been a “business” and “technology” gap. This has driven the need for technical resources in terms of manpower. Examples: IT Managers, Systems Manager, Data Analyst, and so on. The “technology” part of a business was always outsourced to the IT experts. The “business” aspect of the business was always detached from technology and the IT experts helped bridge the gap.

Now with the introduction of the “Cloud” and Self-Service Business Intelligence tools, it is almost certain that there will be very minimal to no distinction between business and technology.

In a traditional organisation structure, the business user with the deepest understanding of underlying data unfortunately has been the furthest away from the data source. Technology experts bridged this gap for the business user. Though results were achieved “eventually”, the business users were dependent on information filtering through to them via the IT team. It is predicted that this distance from the data source to the business user will see a significant reduction in 2015.

Organizations are becoming more aware that departmental silos are no longer acceptable. Users are being forced to work together with shared information for better collaborative results.

There is an anticipated reduction in IT workload and an emerging flat organization structure. There is definitely a rise in demand for a Self-Service model Business Intelligence and Corporate Performance Management tool.

With a continuous increase in data, users are moving away from spreadsheets, tables and charts. Too much reading material from reports is becoming more and more unwelcome. Users prefer reading their information visually at a glance, and only dig deeper when required. The BI industry will be seeing an increased demand for dynamic visual imagery which is linked to live data.



Santosh Chandran is the Business Development Manager for BOARD Management Intelligence at Olympic Software. He regularly blogs about business intelligence and corporate performance management. You can follow him on Twitter  or on LinkedIn.  Please contact him directly if you would like to find out how BOARD can improve your business results through better decision making, phone 09 980 3964 or email: santoshc@olympic.co.nz