Key BI trends that show the need for faster tools

The coming 12 months is set to be a transformational time for many organizations when it comes to determining how they manage their data. It is not only the volume of information that is increasing, as the number of sources is also growing.

But although this presents huge potential for businesses, there are also challenges. If firms do not take steps to improve the performance of their solutions, they are likely to end up with a sprawling data warehouse that it is hard to draw any meaningful insight from quickly enough.

The rapid pace of development in the industry also emphasizes the need for fast business intelligence results, and a few of the key trends that will feature strongly in 2014 were recently identified by JY Pook, vice-president for the Asia Pacific region at Tableau Software.

Among the top areas of focus he highlighted in a piece for MIS Asia were that agile operations and predictive analytics will be among the top drivers of the big data industry this year. Mr Pook stated: "Predictive analytics, once the realm of advanced and specialized systems, will move into the mainstream as businesses seek forward-looking rather than backward-looking insight from data."

But in order to make the most of this technology, firms will need to be able to evaluate their information at extremely high speed – otherwise opportunities are likely to pass them by before they have a chance to adapt.

This is where solutions such as Kognitio's analytical acceleration tools can come in. This sits within a firm's existing infrastructure, but the use of advanced in-memory computing dramatically reduces the time it takes to conduct queries and derive usable insight. In fact, companies can expect to see their operations run between ten and 100 times faster as a result of using the platform.

With figures from International Data Corporation forecasting that analytics will reach 50 percent of potential users this year, before rising to 75 percent by 2020, managing this and making sure these employees can make the most of the technology will be essential for firms.

As a result, there will be high demand for business intelligence tools to be easier to use, and the results simpler to understand. With skilled and experienced data scientists in short supply, these roles will be increasingly taken on by 'generalists' rather than specialists, so a familiarity with how to use these solutions will become part of the skill sets of all users, not just those designated as 'experts'.

Mr Pook added: "Self-service analytics becomes the norm at fast-moving companies. Business people begin to expect flexibility and usability from their dashboards. And the monolithic infrastructure stack finally crumbles in favor of solutions that can work with new data sources."  

For many firms, this will mean embedding business intelligence solutions directly into their key activities. Mr Pook said areas such as customer relationship management particularly stand to benefit from this, with analytics taking a much bigger role in numerous decision-making activities. This will not just be for major strategic changes, but also the many small choices employees like salespeople make on a day-to-day basis. where speed will be essential.

"Ultimately, embedded BI will bring data to departments that have typically lagged – for example, on the shop floor and in retail environments," he said.