I had the opportunity to attend the Gartner Business Intelligence Summit last month in Sydney. The two day event offered a great insight into the challenges that many Australian businesses face on their path to BI fulfilment. There were lots of roundtables, 1:1 meetings, presentations and networking opportunities to talk with others about things we can all do to get better adoption, utilisation and benefits from the tools that many of us have invested a lot of money in. It was a great event – and one that I’d recommend you check out next year.
One comment from a senior Gartner analyst that took me somewhat by surprise, particularly given the audience (lots of BI vendors, and their customers!) was “BI vendors still have a long way to go”. He was no doubt referring to the costs and complexities that still remain for the general business user who wants simple access to timely and accurate information to make informed business decisions. This is exacerbated by the emergence of trends such as “Big Data”, “Cloud and in-memory computing” and the “Internet of Things” which will only compound the existing complexities of ease of analysis and cost, and present new challenges to the BI vendors to overcome.
It was a gutsy comment to make, but one likely intended to throw down the gauntlet to those who wanted to take it.
I agree with this sentiment. BI simply has to get simpler. Not every business can afford full time business analysts to build and manage data-marts, create highly visual, up to date and compelling content for a range of end users. I’d recommend businesses talk with their ERP providers to ensure they are able to deliver out-of-the-box operational reporting and analytics to give you a head-start on your BI journey, and avoid the otherwise potentially heavy implementation costs of a BI integration. Having a good relationship with your vendor, who is local and knows your industry intimately is also crucial.
So where is BI technology headed? IBM show-cased their new Watson Analytics platform which promises natural language querying and zero-integration. IBM are leveraging and extending their roots in the BI space from their Cognos platform and taking it all in-memory and to the cloud with the power of the Watson behind it. IBM say that it will complement existing, more traditional BI tools such as reporting, analysis, what-if modelling and predictive analytics. Their goal is to give business users access to beautiful and informative visualisations of their business performance through simple text-based enquiries like “show me my most profitable products for this week”. It was interesting to see that Watson Analytics uses the same RAVE visualisation engine as was recently introduced to the IBM Cognos platform. It looks great.
I think Watson has the potential to be a game-changer for the industry, and if the investment IBM is putting into it has anything to go on, it should be!
Did you attend the Gartner BI conference this year? Where do you see the future of BI going?