The Death of Business Intelligence

BI 2013: How did the market fare?

Posted in Analytics, Business, Business Intelligence, IT, Microsoft, SAP by neilwilson1984 on January 22, 2014

Business intelligence (BI) is a term that has been on the lips of many businesses and their owners the last year, with companies looking to find solutions that make decisions that little bit easier. It has seemed that uptake of the strategy and software has been picking up pace throughout the year, but just how did 2013 treat the BI industry?


In general, the BI market last year was relatively strong without setting the heather on fire. Growth might not have reached peak levels, but they have been far better than at other times and other sectors across this year.

According to one expert, it has been very middling, with the chief executive officer saying: “I’ve seen better, I’ve seen worse.”

Uptake in general has been good, but it has failed to reach the 40 per cent growth levels that were experienced back in the mid-90s. However, it is important to note that at this time the market was still new and exciting and it was being brought into firms for the first time.

On the other hand, though, the market has not hit its lowest ebb either. This was experienced in 2008, when growth levels were hammered by the worldwide recession. Companies paring back what they offered meant that growth sat at just two per cent throughout that year.

This is no bad thing though. While other sectors across the globe have seen revenues dropping and have had to make cutbacks, the fact that BI has continued to grow can only be seen as being a good thing for the sector overall, leaving good prospects on the cards for 2014 and beyond.

A tale of two sizes

In 2014, it has been about different types of BI, and growth in the two can be compared on one simple scale – size. While large companies have continued to grow throughout the year, it has been those smaller firms that have enjoyed the best levels of improvement in 2013.

Large BI providers such as IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP have enjoyed a growth level that has sat at just single-digit improvements in terms of revenue, but it has been a different story further down the ladder.

According to Condi Howson at Information Week, some smaller firms have performed so strongly that many even nearly doubled their revenues throughout the year.

One such company was Tableau, which saw its revenue figures jump by 75 per cent throughout the year 2013. Other companies that enjoyed revenue leaps far in excess of larger competitors included TIBCO Spotfire (30 per cent) and QlikTech (23 per cent).


So why are smaller BI companies performing well? The answer is simple – they are much more malleable and ready to adapt.

Most small and medium firms cannot afford the very largest BI solutions, so they look towards those that can provide just what they need – self service and bespoke software that just ticks all of the right boxes.

Of course, they cannot get these from the larger companies around the globe, which means they will increasingly turn to smaller BI firms, giving these a boost throughout 2014.


Predictive analysis spending soars on demand for business intelligence

Posted in Analytics, Business Intelligence, IT, Microsoft, SAP by neilwilson1984 on December 12, 2013

A desire for better business intelligence is driving demand for predictive analysis software, according to a new set of figures. According to the study by Transparency Market Research, the market for predictive analytics software will be worth over $6.5 billion by 2019.

The growth is being driven by increased demand for customer intelligence, as well as fraud and security intelligence software. In addition, cloud hosted predictive analytics software solutions are seen as an emerging market that will drive growth in the near future.

Banking and finance services, insurance, government, pharmaceuticals, telecom and IT, and retail, are seen as key demand drivers during the forecast period, which will see the market more than triple in value from a base of just over $2 billion.

But the biggest growth will be in retail and manufacturing, largely due to fast growing consumer driven digital data and the subsequent need to extract strategically critical information from this data.

The study authors say a rise in incidences of frauds, payment defaults, over or under stock inventory levels, and regulations regarding governance, risk, and compliance, have pushed companies to adopt predictive analytical models.

“Demand for industry specific software solutions has caused customer intelligence, fraud and security intelligence, and campaign management to emerge as leading segments,” they say. These segments together accounted for approximately 50 per cent of market revenue in 2012.

The US and Canada will continue to lead the way as business intelligence demands drive uptake of solutions capable of analyzing big data.

“North America, which has been at the forefront of generating big data in large quantities, is expected to remain the largest market for predictiveanalytics software solutions,” the authors say.

“This is due to demand for advanced business intelligence being directly affected by need to analyze big data. Growth of predictive analytics aspect of business intelligence has seen a revival ever since big data gained popularity and has been growing exponentially.”

All this is good for companies, with competition increasing as big data vendors – SAP, SAS, Oracle, IBM, Microsoft – now entering the market for predictive analytics.

SMEs enjoy business intelligence advantage

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence, IT, SAP by neilwilson1984 on November 28, 2013

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may be better able to harness the power of business intelligence (BI). That’s according to a new report showing smaller companies are more agile and closer to their customers than larger organizations.

The study from Dresner Advisory Services showed SME BI initiatives are more likely to be driven by executive management and the sales function, reported Enterprise Apps Today.

“SMEs have the advantage of agility and the ability to use BI as a competitive differentiator,” explained Howard Dresner, chief research officer at the firm behind the report.

“Because of the closeness of executives to the technology, business and customers, they have an edge against larger competitors.”

However, he points out that larger organizations have a lot more resources in terms of people and money, enabling them to invest in more long-term projects.

But while they may have an advantage when it comes to business intelligence resources, SMEs tend to face fewer operational challenges.

Larger organizations, says Dresner, can get “bloated with bureaucracy and process, forcing them to focus BI upon efficiency”. By contrast, smaller enterprises are more efficient and can focus externally.

This seems to go against a recent report from BI software vendor SAP, which warned this summer that SMEs struggle with data analysis.

In a blog, SAP noted how for really precise decisions, companies need lots of data, but speed and efficiency is a real issue: management simply doesn’t have time to wade through mountains of raw data when there are loads of other tasks to perform.

“Another aggravating factor is that the management depends on the cooperation of the IT department to deal with the issue. Many midsize companies tie up unnecessary resources with gathering data, and these resources then don’t get to do their core tasks,” said SAP.

This results in one major problem facing SMEs – lots of raw data that is merely presented and not analyzed or synthesized to be of any real value. Agile they may be, but SMEs need to find ways of maximizing their resources of they risk missing out on making sense of the data they are harvesting.

Business intelligence software saves British Army millions

Posted in Business Intelligence, IT, SAP by neilwilson1984 on September 19, 2013

Business intelligence has a truly transformational effect on organizations. Data impacts every of an organization and harnessing its potential to make decisions is crucial.

Ultimately, though, the usefulness of applying business intelligence (BI) strategies comes down to a simple equation: how does it impact the bottom line. If BI software can’t save the company money, or create new revenue streams, what’s the point of it?

The British Army is not an organization looking for new ways to make money or respond to customer demands. But it is very much an entity that is looking to save money, and drastically.

Good news for it and the BI market, then, as the organization is enjoying some huge savings from introducing BI software.

The British Army is using SAS (business analytics software, not special forces) to analyse and more efficiently allocate manpower and resources, saving UK taxpayers more than £20 million – approximately $32 million.

The Army retains a complex system with up to 200 trades supported, from Infantry to signaller and from engineer to plant operator mechanic. With multiple sources of big data about its personnel, such as skills and capabilities, efficient data handling is crucial to making the right manpower decisions.

Through SAS-driven insight, the army has been able to realign – and avoid wastage – of expenditure totalling £770 million.

Finding savings in this area is hugely important. Personnel accounts for around a quarter of military spending in the UK overall, but three-quarters of the army’s budget.

In addition to creating and providing innovative solutions, the SAS Professional Services team of domain experts are working on-site to help the Army integrate disparate sources of data relating to human resources. Ground-level support means it can work in a more agile and efficient manner when responding to urgent and evolving information demands, as well as supporting the overall manpower planning programme.

Elaine Drummond, head of public sector at SAS UK, said: “SAS gives the British Army a much greater insight into vast volumes of information held within their systems. By sufficiently aligning and simplifying the data, the British Army now has the power to make better-informed decisions about manpower planning, driving efficiencies and new opportunities for innovation.

“The role the in-house SAS team play in supporting the Army will remain critical in reviewing manpower efficiencies and system optimisation today and in the future. Our close engagement on-site means that we can support the current restructuring process by ensuring that systems are aligned with the Army’s core needs – efficient and more structured manpower planning.”

The software being utilized by the army includes SAS Enterprise BI Server, a business intelligence software solution that provides insights from big data that enhance enterprise and data mining capabilities. It is also using SAS to maintain a high quality of data, correcting input errors and de-duplicating data sets, while SAS Enterprise Guide is helping the army streamline its data, analytics and reporting capabilities.

Can SAP & Sybase together meet the expectations of mobile users?

The race is on to get everything you can do on your computer on your mobile device, especially business intelligence. But, are companies looking at what users want from mobile BI or are they pursuing the goal for the sake of it?

Mobile Computing

The hot topic in computing right now is mobile computing. The race is on to get everything you can do on your computer on your mobile device. Everything can be brought to a mobile device, or so we are meant to believe. The SAP and Sybase merger announced last week as all about the mobile functionality and bringing data to users wherever they are. While there are multiple unanswered questions in this merger that other bloggers have dealt with, no one seems to be addressing the key that opens the lock box of a mobile data user’s happiness, quick communication. The method of delivery, the application, the functionality, has to be so smooth that my finger can move the information around and have so few chains attached to it that my mobile browser and more importantly any mobile connection has to be able to handle it.

A Certain Fondness for SAP

Now I have fond memories of trying to dig out relevant bits of information using SAP. At the best of times I was able to take multiple coffee breaks waiting for my final results. The process was complicated, long and arduous at the best of times. While I enjoyed the time getting a coffee, I’m not sure how I feel about starting into my mobile phone waiting for the information I need to appear. Also, what happens if I get a call, the connection will cut out and then will I have to start the query all over again?

I don’t know how a SAP business solution will look on a mobile device. The merger just happened, and after some of the comments I have heard from SAP executives, I wonder if anyone at SAP really knows. But what I know is that in order for me to want to use any analytics software on a mobile device the software had better ensure that what is happening at the backend of the system doesn’t interfere with what’s happening on the front end. The time to value on a mobile device has to be almost instantaneous. If I have to wait around, staring into my mobile phone like I have had to do on my computer, you better believe I won’t bother.

Gathering and processing data needs to not only be fast but it has to be easy. The number of steps from query to answer should be minimal. If I need to access multiple systems and make cross dimensional queries from a mobile, the platform needs to also be able to do that simply and easily.

Mobile BI can work

But that’s not to say I haven’t seen some great BI applications on a mobile device. Performance Canvas mobile BI server for instance offers users the ability to view dashboards, mashboards and scorecards from any web enabled mobile device. I tried their free online demo and I surprised with how quickly I was able to manipulate data in dashboard. Mobile BI does exist and it can be quick and easy, so I do have hope.

We know business users need to access information on-the-go, its what made Blackberry so popular. Is the SAP/Sybase merger going to make this happen? We are all waiting in anticipation to see.