BI Trends Of 2012-An Extensive Analysis

Business Intelligence As An Enterprise Need :-
Business Intelligence is simply not an application but it is a software system capable of generating the ready-to-understand information and sometimes ready-to-consume predictive-information about a business on top of the available data sets. The data could be from Enterprise Social Networking sites, Customer Social Sites, Customer Relation Management System, ERP and CRM, Position Navigation System powered by GIS/GPS, Viral Sales and Marketing Tools like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Friendster, Pheed, weblogs and other blogging and microblogging sites. These data are used by the BI system to facilitate an organization for the historical analysis, to forecast and in getting the predictive details. The outcomes from different features of BI system namely report, smart search, analytics, OLAP, and Dashboard/KPI are utilized in different ways. Based on the context of business operations, BI can be used for three different types of business analysis are they: –

1. Historical Analysis –
This type of analysis is used to know the different aspects of the business in the past using different trends and patterns of business process and activities  This type of analysis is used generally for the analysis of production, sales and marketing, human resource, inventory and finance. It helps in analyzing and knowing the trends of all business processes over the different time periods and business aspects like geographical division and product category. The Decision Support System (DSS) and other Self-Intelligent Business Systems are leveraged in this type of analysis along with the in-built decision-generation algorithms while formulating or creating an automated business decisions. Automatic membership upgrade system on most of Financial and Banking operations is always based on customer’s credit history. The same is made possible through the historical data analysis along with the other policies to promote the cardholder member from lower to premier category.

2. Real Time Analysis-
To know the current statistics, health and statues of different areas of business and to take an appropriate action or counter decision against each of negative point, the real time data is processed and the visualization and outcome are generated out them. The real DSS is aligned to consume the output of Historical analysis for better precision and appropriateness.

3. Futuristic Analysis-
Sometimes, there could be business scenarios where data is generated algorithmically using the some of patters formulated based the historical data. This kind of analysis is generally used to forecast and predict the business events or activities of the future.
To qualify a software system as Business Intelligence Platform or BI System there is need of leveraging the pre-defined sets of 
functionality.These common functionality sets are: –

  1. BI Core Infrastructure
  2. Metadata/Repository Management
  3. Designer and Development Platform/Tools
  4. Collaboration
  5. Reporting Capability
  6. Business Cockpit
  7. Smart Search
  8. Ad-Hoc Query
  9. Third Part & MS Integration
  10. OLAP
  11. Interactive Reports an Data Visualization
  12. Data Mining, Analytics and Predictive Modeling
  13. Scorecard or Process Flow
  14. Social BI and GeoBI

All reporting systems and platforms may not support all of pre-requisite functionality-sets through the single platform or product but it becomes mandatory to support a sub-set (may be 8) of functionality from set of above 14 points to qualify itself as BI Platform. Gartner ‘Magic Quadrant –Business Intelligence 2012’ has considered Mobile BI from newly emerged-out BI modules like Mobile BI, Social BI and GeoBI.

The reporting requirements to be addressed by Business Intelligence System are always very much diversified across different departments of the organizations and their business processes. The relevant data used by the finance department may not be 100% useful and relevant to Sales & Marketing team because as an individual department they work in two different business philosophies. There is another type of categorization of Business Intelligence i.e. based on functional usage. The Business Intelligence and similar platforms are clubbed together to give a unique groups based on usage and the same are Business Strategy Intelligence, Business Operation Intelligence and Competence Intelligence. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to visualize the BI Solution from business-activities point of view and for the same reasons they are categorized into three different types:

1. Strategy Drive BI-
In this type of BI usage, the enterprise goals are created as the outcome of BI initiative on top of business process and activities defined by Business Process Management in a management oriented fashions. The KPI(Key Performance Indicators) are designed with pre-defined goals to meet the corporate level initiatives. So, different business processes are aligned with strategic business objectives and goals through the different performance metric and indicators.

2. Analysis-Driven BI-
In this type of Business Analysis, Analyst will use the outcome of the Business analysis and decisions and strategy will be formulated on the basis of those analytical outcomes.

3. Process Driven BI-
Sometimes, the processes are broken up into smaller parts and they are treated as smallest unit of Business to contribute in decision-making process. The data will be presented mostly as reports, dashboard, alerts, traffic lights and search options.

Intelligent Search is becoming popular across all BI Platform and it is used to get the one-dimensional data from different business data-source connected through BI Platform. The primary source of BI Search could be Index Server, Document Sand Data generated through B2B and B2C Social engagement. It is evident that the input mode will definitively be changed to voice and other advanced modes like Google Glasses and SmartWatches.

Although In-Memory Analytics is just an architectural improvement over the traditional Analytics, its market share is coming up due to its fast processing capability. The emerging trend in viewing business data from mobile devices like Smart-phones, SmartWatches, iPad,Tablets and PaperTabs, will bring a need of getting the business data through the intelligent Search on the devices.

Revolution in BI- Intelligence, Smart and Futuristic Visualization:-The need of BI is trending towards more intuitive, intelligent and futuristic kind of visualizations along with all existing standard features. An executive Dashboard or a Business Cockpit works as decision expert center and it renders all Key Performance Indicators(KPI), alerts and traffic lights and they may vary from business vertical to business vertical. It is good idea to place summarized data inside the KPI and the common and generic examples of Key Performance Indicators are:-

  1. Sales Matrix- Target Vs. Actual
  2. DIO Analysis- Target Vs. Actual
  3. Customer Acquisition Matrix- Target Vs. Actual
  4. PE Ratio Matrix
  5. Market Penetration Matrix- Target Vs. Actual
  6. Revenue Matrix- Cost Vs. Revenue
  7. Profitability Matrix – Target Vs. Actual
  8. Top Landing-Page Matrix
  9. Top X Selling Brand Matrix
  10. Top X Selling Categories- Across Zones/Areas/Cities
  11. Sales Margin Trends

The flexibility of defining the frequency of operational period i.e. time in lowest fraction relevant to business scenarios is facilitated in most of Dashboard from different vendors and possible values are minutes, hours, days, weeks, fortnights, months, quarters and years.

The BI marketing is growing at Year-On-Year(Y-O-Y) growth-rate of not below 11% starting from 1997 till end of last quarter 2012 although there was lots of financial crunch on IT departments of most of companies. In 2011, the total market size of Business Intelligence Platform attained $ 8.9 billion with growth rate of 11.4% over the market size of 2010. The market share of top 10 BI vendors was almost 64 % in 2011. Gartne’s  ‘Magic Quadrant –Business Intelligence 2012’ indicates that Oracle, MicroStraegy, IBM, SAP, QlikTech , Information Builder and Mircosoft as the leaders of BI vendors or BI solution providers in 2011. The newly emerging BI vendors are also doing better to gain bigger pie in market through their innovative offerings.

My independent analysis says the BI market is moving towards the innovative and functionality-oriented aspects. Mobile BI, Social BI, GeoBI , Self-Predictive Analytics and BigData solution as Cloud-PAAS or Cloud-SAAS from BI vendors or in managed cloud-hosting  will dominate the BI sales-market in coming days and this pattern will remain constant at least for another one and half years.

 Whether it is a start-up or MSME or SME or big enterprise, BI Platforms can leverage an analysis solution for analytical, historical and strategy and competence analysis. In some of business vertical the use of BI is very much needed because of their data-driven business modeling and one of such industry is banking/finance. The business vertical or domains where BI has usefulness and derives really great ROI and business additions are below: –

  1. Aviation Industry
  2. Automobile Industry
  3. Jewellery Industry
  4. Fashion Industry
  5. Flower & Floral Industry
  6. Pharmaceutical Industry
  7. Shipping
  8. Retails (Showroom based retailing ,et-ailing, e-grocery etc)
  9. Healthcare (Hospital, e-healthcare, e-ICU)
  10. Beverages Industry
  11. Consulting And Manpower Industry
  12. Finance and Banking
  13. Infotainment and Entertainment Industry
  14. Education
  15. Realty
  16. Sugar and Paper Industries
  17. Publication & Distribution
  18. Logistics

Other than Business, Business Intelligence system has generated usability potential in Military and defense related systems. As an Investigative Intelligence System, BI can be used to analyze the threats, attacks and other security perception, to know the pattern and re-occurrence of similar events on future. It works better in the analysis of communication channels and patterns used by anti-social groups and peoples and other core terrorist groups. It also has potential of generating some of great inputs during the pre and post happening of natural and man made disasters using its Preemptive Intelligence capability. BI System also can be used in other areas like Civil and Police Department, Public And Healthcare Departments, NGO, Astronomical and Trajectory Analysis (Like landing on Asteroids, NASA mission), Sports and Tournament Analysis (A Money Ball is fantastic example) and Criminal Records and Civil/Judi airy Case Analysis.

New Face of BI- Emerging Trends of 2012: –

a. Social Business Intelligence-
Social BI is system that allows to visualize, analyze and plot different graphical and tabular visualizations of the data collected through different sources on web like web-search, enterprise social sites, customer social sites, educational networking sites, RSS feeds, blogging and microblogging sites and non-core business applications. Almost all social activities on web can generate business relevant data and it contributes to Big Data. The Big Data is huge volume of data beyond the ability of most of software and Business Platform to capture, manage and to process. Even just to handle the business application on top of this type of data, highly optimized Data Warehouse is designed using the well proven framework and technology. Facebook is supported by petabyte data warehouse running on Apache Hadoop/Hive in giving the great navigational experience.

More than 95 % social data are generated through micro logging sites, social blogging sites, Blogging Community Sites, community building and networking sites, educational networking sites, audio/video sharing sites, collaborative contents development sites. The fast adoption of Social Networking Sites including Educational Networking as business-supported tools has created need of new technology for the visualization and analysis of business of huge data collected these channels. The usage of Social Networking is increasing at the rate of 85-90% annual basis and Facebook itself attracts 740 plus million unique visitors in a month from its $900 million user-base and out of these visitors, 29-35 % seeks purchase advice through Facebook updates and posts.
The total user-volume of networking sites (Enterprise Social Networking, Customer Social Networking, Location Networking Sites and Social Networking Sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Friendster etc.) worldwide is 2.4 billion till 2011 and it expected to grow to 3.9 billion by end of 2015. Above 40 % the global companies are using Social Networking Sites to improve and enhance their sales and marketing strategies and this initiative generated Terabytes of social data every putting itself for the source of Big Data.

The fast trending natures of digital marketing, e-brand management and commerce through Social Sites has created a big opportunity area for Social BI and it will become core offering of BI Platforms in future. Some of the ETL Tool is already supporting social-data processing and there is great need of Social ETL tool in market to fulfill need of ETL capable of processing data from all Social Sites and activities including we search. Few independent and integrated solution are available in BI market to cater the need of Social BI and Social data-processing. Actuate BIRT Social( SAAS Based), Yellowfin and Google Analytics ,Radian 6, Kontagent, SAS Social Media Analytics and Attensity 360 are some of the niche players in the market of Social BI.

b. Big Data –Challenging Strategies-
For business system that is pushing a teratbye/petabytes of data through its day-to-day operations, size of data creates performance challenges and there some standard solution to overcome this problem but the solution is expensive. The exponentially increasing volume of Business Data has forced the need of new technology to manage and process them for Business Analysis. The MPP (Multiple Parallel Processing) technology has started taking its share to handle this amount of data. Apache Hadoop is the well-proven technology available in this area.

c. Cloud-BI (Cloud-IAAS, Cloud-PAAS, Cloud-SAAS)-
Cloud Technology is architectural change for all business application including Business Intelligence. Whether the managed hosting is moved into cloud on privately deployed on cloud by acquiring cloud offering as Cloud-IAAS or Cloud-PASS or the BI solution utilized used as Cloud-SAAS, Cloud is the most economical option available in the market. Depending upon the need of BI solution, existing IT infrastructure and organizational policy, there will be a need of considering some technical and functional challenges but they would be over come with the best practices and twist on generic Cloud-Architecture and security model. About 30 % BI initiative of 2011, moved themselves into Cloud-SAAS or had planned to use this offering in future.

Actuate‘s market share is significant in Cloud-SAAS BI business and some other BI vendors are also offering innovative and futuristic SAAS-based products to push their business as Cloud-SAAS and some of niche players of SAAS-BI are Actuate, 1010data, Birst, Domo, GoodData, PivotLink and MicroStrategy.

d. Location/GeoBI – Spatial BI-
About 80 % of data stored in corporate database has geo-spatial components associated with them and they may be lying without any use or proper relationships for any business analysis. It helps in getting the Business information in terms of geographical positions and distances. For example finding the names of places at around 200 radiuses from an Airport. The Geospatial Business Intelligence system needs special support for spatial relation and correlation and a stack of software for spatial complaint database like PostgreSQL-postGIS, Oracle-Oracle Spatial etc to store the correct spatial details on business data. The business data mapped with spatial details are presented in human understandable form using the specially designed interface or API and one of them is SOLAPLayers form Mondrian™.

Open Source BI- A Cost Savvy Option: –

Business Intelligence is a huge subject and area on itself and it is very difficult for a company to delivery everything on economical stack. The open standard for BI under OSI is really great idea to create a great Business Intelligence system as all participating companies and members will contribute equally to deliver a solution at loyalty free licenses like LGP/GPL /GNU and any other OSI licenses. The biggest advantages of Open source Business Intelligence Platform is lower TCO and higher ROI and some of the matured BI Platform available under this stack got almost everything what other bigger players are offering to the customers. Gartner’s  ‘Magic Quadrant –Business Intelligence 2012’ has considered Jaspersoft and Pentaho as the niche BI players. BIRT is another Opens Source BI with significant presence and penetration in market.

There are few myths about Business Intelligence Platforms, offerings different and Business Intelligence implementation and maintenance strategies. Some of these myths are below: –

1. BI System will solve everything.
It is myth and in reality BI is the system that allow to get the standard outcome either with pre-defined business decision or interpret-able outcome but the tightly coordinated relations and are necessary among BI vendor and BI expert/Consultant/Architect, IT department, business users and management to make the BI application useful, successful and to get higher ROI.

2. Existing BI Platform is always best and offering from emerging /upcoming BI are bad:
It is a myth and the reality is that a very innovative functionality and feature are mushrooming from emerging BI vendors and they are useful in today’s business scenarios and environment. BI is the system of technological innovations and its need constant changes and improvement. So, it is necessary to consider for additional enhancement on existing BI system or BI Platform to keep an organization updated with the latest Business Intelligence System and analysis mechanism.

3. Dashboard is enough to everything.

Again, this is a myth; an executive dashboard along can’t provide the minute and complete health of a business. It is basically organizational and departmental KPI and details and other information will remain available outside Dashboard as the reports, analytics and search capability.

Reference and Thanks:
There are few technical and statistical references from other research and e-books. In the same context, my special thanks to:

  1. Dr. Thierry Badard, CTO Spatialytics inc.Quebec, Canada
  2. Dan Vesset, IDC
  3. Sara Radicati, Principal Analyst, The Radicati Group Inc.

Analyzed And Author By:Amrit Chhetri,


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