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10 Big Business Intelligence Trends of the Near Future

Updated on March 8, 2013

In the past, BI was used mainly by company executives, providing them with monthly/yearly reports on various aspects of the company. While BI is still a vital piece of the planning and decision making process, this idea of "traditional BI" is quickly fading. As the workforce becomes more mobile, BI is moving outside the confines of the office. Modern business leaders demand real-time BI that's always accessible-from anywhere at any time using any device. They demand BI that gets the right information into the right hands precisely when it's needed.

What BI trends will be commonplace in the next few years? Here's a list of 10 trends that we can expect to see in the next few years:

1. Self service BI
End users are tired of waiting on the IT department to deliver the BI applications they need. End users are now bypassing the IT department altogether to get what they want. To stop users from using outside services, IT departments will have no choice but to deliver self-service BI options that let users create the BI applications they require. This process either involves giving users the development tools to create their own applications, or simply creating a variety of canned reports for end users.

2. Cloud BI
Most analysts and researchers seem to agree on one point: The cloud is the future, even though current adoption is slow. Business Intelligence on the cloud promises near 100% uptime and scalability without all the time and money required to maintain in-house hardware. However, security is still a big concern for many companies, who don't trust cloud providers with their private data. As a result, I believe we'll see a rise in private cloud BI deployments.

3. Collaborative BI
As we learned from the rise of social media, the internet is the perfect collaboration platform. This concept translates seamlessly to Business Intelligence. For example, what if you could add comments and interact with other co-workers directly within a BI application? What if you could share ideas or point out interesting trends found in the data? This will soon be a reality, as collaboration options will quickly become default features of BI applications.

4. Mobile BI
In the future, Business Intelligence will not be limited by device or location. It will be cross-platform, offering instant access from all smartphones and tablets.

Now, mobile BI goes a step beyond simply building separate mobile apps for smartphones and tablets. It involves creating BI apps that adapt to the device on which they're accessed. They must look like a PC application when accessed on a PC, but look completely different (yet native) when accessed on a tablet or smartphone.

5. Embedded BI
While traditional BI is typically a standalone product, embedded BI integrates analytics and reporting capabilities directly into your everyday business applications. Essentially, embedded BI brings BI to the end users, working it into their daily routine. This approach is far simpler for users, and can lead to better user adoption.

6. Agility
While the world is full of prognosticators, does anyone truly know how technology will evolve over the next few years? No. For that reason, agility is a necessary element to any good BI solution. The ability to incorporate new tech improvements and capabilities into your existing applications on the fly is absolutely essential.

7. Predictive analytics
Business intelligence will become more than "What is happening in my business?" Instead, it will turn into "What will most likely happen in my business based on past data?" As BI becomes more powerful, it will be able to analyze multiple data points and use that data to predict future outcomes. Imagine what a powerful tool that could be. What if you could pick up your phone, access your mobile BI application, and see the most probable future results?

8. Intelligent Alerts
Once real-time BI becomes the standard, the next logical step is trigger-based alerts. When data has triggered a pre-defined alert, the BI app will send an email or text message to the appropriate party. For instance, what if product sales are abnormally low on one day. An intelligent alert can instantly notify you of this abnormality, and may help you stop a problem before it gets out of hand.

9. Open Integration
Data will no longer be confined to one or two internal database(s). Soon, BI applications will have to pull data from your database, cloud services, email accounts, social media, the web, and more. For instance, what if your business intelligence application could not only display product sales, but also scan the web and social media sites for reviews and comments about your products? Wouldn't that be incredibly useful information? If sales were low, the product feedback pulled from the web may help you understand why.

10. Location-aware
As business intelligence moves towards mobile devices, the usefulness of location aware applications increases. For instance, when your salespeople visit customer or prospect sites, a location-aware application could instantly pull up all the customer/prospect data and correspondence.

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