All of the changes taking place in the business intelligence space make it difficult to pinpoint exactly where it is going. Forrester recently looked into the question and found that the relationship between users of business intelligence applications and the IT departments that are providing business intelligence tools is being turned upside down.

This is Only the Beginning

The Future Of BI argues that with companies like IBM investing billions in emerging technologies and the emergence of big data, we are only beginning to see the impact of the business intelligence market.

Users are demanding more control over business intelligence applications to find meaning in big data, taking the exclusive control control of the applications away from the IT department.

In addition, Forrester notes increasing levels of interest in and adoption of BI platforms, applications and processes, with recent research showing that a large number of enterprises have concrete plans to implement or expand their use of BI software within the next 24 months.

Despite this, the report mentions anecdotal evidence that less than 30% of current information workers use business intelligence solutions, with that figure dropping to 10% in some circumstances.

Information workers are looking for business information tools that enable them to work how and where they need and want. Traditional business intelligence environments don’t empower them to do so. This is for two reasons:

  1. IT departments generally feature centralized planning, insist on standards and a single way of doing things that doesn’t leave much room for agility and flexibility.
  2. IT departments can barely see beyond single end-to end platforms that are rigid and inflexible instead of using the “best-tool-for-the-job" philosophy.

The result is that many business intelligence tools are not agile enough and have not kept pace with the increasingly rigid regulatory environment they are working in.

As a result of these changes, IT is being forced to give up some control over BI in favor of working more closely with business users. Ten different trends have emerged as a result:

Ten Emerging BI Trends

1. BI Tools Over Standards

The rapidly changing business environment will force business intelligence technologies to adopt and IT departments to dispel with a single enterprise standard. As a result, they will start adopting more agile technologies, such as those that are based on flexible in-memory models, in conjunction with enterprise-wide standards.

2. Multiple BI Tools

While many enterprises have been using multiple business intelligence tools for quite some time, multiple business intelligence tool technology use will become an enterprise standard in the future. This is based on the view that no one single vendor can provide all the answers to business intelligence needs.

3. Business User Control

Business users will be looking for more control of the business intelligence environment. The current trend of IT departments trying to keep up with business user requests will end as users get tired of waiting for requests to be fulfilled. The result is end user self-service features like semantic layers and search capabilities.

4. End User Self-Service

Tools that provide self-service to business users will become popular as they enable business intelligence users to carry-out most of their required functions themselves. The challenge here will be to balance the right amount of control over business intelligence while allowing the flexibility of autonomy. The best solutions will be those that can combine the two elements.

5. Mobile is Essential

At one point in the not too distant past mobility was something beneficial but not essential. However, it has proved its ROI and is no longer an option to overlook. Over the course of the coming year it will become the norm where it is not already so. Features like multiple visual query methods, leverage of GPS signals for geolocation and geospatial analytics will be among the features that will also become standard.

6 Cloud Business Intelligence

While cloud BI solutions are still relatively immature, they will slowly chip away at on-premise implementations even though heavy integration and customization of enterprise applications is not going away anytime soon. BI cloud investment won’t happen immediately but will happen in an expanding market over coming years as enterprises look to increase the use of business intelligence at lower costs.

7. BI-specific DBMS

BI-specific DBMS (DataBase Management System) architected specifically for business intelligence will gain in popularity as the demand for agile business intelligence grows. While there is still relatively low adoption rates compared with traditional databases, this won’t last and Forrester is predicting that they will become mainstream this year.

8. Big Data

Big data initiatives will be seen right across the enterprise as it become more and more affordable to provide intelligence. It will change the data governance landscape and IT delivery as it becomes clear that business intelligence needs more than one approach. IT departments will start taking data initiatives more seriously this year, which will see it moving out of specific silos for content.

9. Data Exploration

As workers need to work with more information and as results derived from that information come into play, information workers will demand the ability to explore data without perceived notions or models. Solutions that support this kind of model-free exploration will become a standard of business intelligence suites.

10. Information Workplace

The Information Workplace brings together several technologies that enable information workers access to the information they need. They will drive efficiencies. BI users will start demanding, and vendors will start delivering, BI tools integrated with all parts of the IW -- such as email, search, portals, collaboration platforms and social communities -- rather than just Excel.