2015 Predictions: BI Finally Shines a Spotlight On Everyday Business Users

As we ease into 2015, big changes are afoot in business intelligence. To excel, vendors will need to redirect efforts where results matter the most: the end user.

Currently, the BI landscape faces two huge obstacles: cost and complexity. Making up a $69B market, BI projects are mammoth-sized undertakings, requiring huge price tags, armies of implementation consultants, and specialized, full-time staff for ongoing support. It’s not uncommon for these projects to drag on for six months before a single report is generated.

Think about Facebook and Google. If you had to take a training course or rely on outside support to use them, would they claim billions of users? Of course not. UX simplicity is paramount.

With this focus on the end user in mind, I jotted down some thoughts on where BI is headed in 2015.

  1. BI vendors will start adopting search-based interfaces with varying degree of capability. A simple, intuitive end-user experience will be an integral element of this refocus because it’s an already common and effective user experience model in the world of access to consumer information (think about how you use Facebook, Amazon, and LinkedIn). Following this model, more and more BI providers will add features that allow users to simply search across billions of rows of data to gain instant insights.<br> 

  2. Big Data adoption will remain limited because of the last-mile challenges users face in accessing data. Ignoring for now the question of how to properly define “big data,” we should expect to see platforms like Hadoop become more widely adopted to bring order to unstructured data from our daily lives (via blogs, pictures, sensors, etc.) and derive actionable intelligence from it. We’re seeing great progress in capabilities, but where is the usability? What we really need for Big Data is an easy-to-use, simple interface that gives non-technical users actionable insights.<br> 

  3. Technological advances in DRAM economics and security features will accelerate utilization of BI tools and fuel software innovation. For decades, the BI stack has been designed with hard drives in mind for storage. Now with DRAM taking the place of spinning platters, all sorts of possibilities come to life in terms of how much data can be stored in memory rather than disk and how quickly that data can be accessed. This will transform what kind of user interfaces can be built to get answers from these databases, to support more real-time, interactive and iterative user interfaces for data exploration and analysis.

While a quickly-evolving big data revolution ripples across multiple industries, we remain using business intelligence technology from two decades ago. A focused shift back to the BI end user via search will drive big changes in 2015, which is a promising step forward. As is almost always the case, the simplest experience is the best one.

Adapted from the original article published in Virtual-Strategy Magazine.