When we asked analysts, forecasters and pundits for their predictions for the most relevant business intelligence and analytics trends for 2015, they came up with a host of topics, including mobile maturity, Hadoop growth, better text analysis and incorporation of the Internet of Things (IoT) into analytics.
Here is what they saw as they gazed into their crystal balls.
Better Mobile BI
Mobile business intelligence has been all the rage for a couple of years now. But reality hasn’t quite matched up to expectations. Adi Azaria, co-founder of Sisense, said it has gotten to the point where mobile requirements are forcing a fundamental change in the approach to BI.
"Rather than elaborate visualizations, you will see hard numbers, simple graphs and conclusions," Azaria said. "For instance, with wearable devices you might look at an employee and quickly see the key performance indicator."
Ellie Fields, vice president of Product Marketing at Tableau, also sees progress being made on mobile, which she thinks will translate into more capabilities in the hands of sales and field service personnel.
"The level of maturity being achieved will help mobile workers accomplish light analysis on the road," she said.
Year of Hadoop
Hadoop has been a high visibility item for a couple of years now. But Gary Nakamura, CEO of Concurrent, believes Hadoop will break through and become a worldwide phenomenon in 2015. A sign that this is occurring, he said, is a growing wave of Hadoop-related acquisitions and IPOs. "Hadoop is rapidly spreading across Europe, Asia and other parts of the world so there will be strong Hadoop adoption this year," he said.
Text Analysis Matures
While Hadoop is likely to be big this year, not everyone thinks it will realize its huge potential over the course of 2015. An intermediate stage that incorporates better text analysis may be required on the way to realizing the Big Data dream, Azaria said.
"Unstructured data has posed many obstacles in the past, but will come into its own in 2015," said Azaria. "Text analysis will gain increasing traction, with Web data, documents and images, and companies finally able to tackle unstructured data in meaningful ways."
First we used databases for analysis, then we added in unstructured data sources and data from a far greater number of mobile devices. Up that by two or three orders of magnitude as the Internet of Things (IoT) takes hold.
"When you have millions of devices, systems and machines connected on the Internet generating all kinds of machine log data, making sense of this data becomes a strategic opportunity for manufacturers, service providers and end users," said Puneet Pandit, CEO of Glassbeam. "The use cases of this application include support automation, remote diagnostics, predictive maintenance, installed base analysis, product quality reporting and service revenue generation."
Bob Muglia, CEO of Snowflake Computing, pointed out that in addition to IoT data, companies will make better use of log data and device data, which in the past has been largely collected and analyzed in isolated silos using special-purpose tools.
"There is an emerging recognition of the enormous value in analyzing machine data together with transactional data," said Muglia. "This recognition will catalyze a rapid shift to data processing and analytics that enables business analysts to gain deeper business insight through the combination of structured and semi-structured data for analysis inside a single system."
Democratic Data Rules
The strategy of bringing democracy to the Middle East hasn’t exactly panned out. But democracy is coming to analytics, according to Pandit. Business people inside enterprises are increasingly moving away from relying on internal IT to provide analytics. Software-as a-wervice (SaaS) was the first wave of this. The next step is further simplification of the application layer, with business users demanding real time ad-hoc analysis so they can perform their own "what-if" analyses, find hidden nuggets in data, and build charts, graphs and dashboards and then publish them among their user community.
Sustained Analytics Growth
Gartner numbers show that advanced analytics has surpassed the $1 billion per year mark. That makes it the fastest-growing segment of the business intelligence and analytics software market. Gartner analyst Alexander Linden expects that level of growth to continue as more and more business units gain access to applications that can harness analytics.
Eric Berridge, CEO of Bluewolf, is equally bullish.
"Investments in predictive analytics and data intelligence will explode," he said. "Seventy-one percent of companies will increase their investments in data intelligence and predictive analytics in the coming year," he said, citing Bluewolf research.
IT/Business Partner on Analytics
IT used to call the shots on what business intelligence and analytics applications were deployed and who had access to them. Then came SaaS and cloud-based freedom. Brett Azuma, an analyst at 451 Research, predicts that we are about to enter an era of compromise where both sides will have a say in more of a peaceful coexistence.
"Self-service data preparation and harmonization will complement and coexist with IT’s traditional data management tools, which will continue to address critical issues around data security, compliance and governance," Azuma said.
Gartner analyst David Cearley predicts increasing invisibility in analytics as the volume of data involved grows and the trend toward embedded BI accelerates. To his mind, every application will be an analytic app to some degree, and the era of point analytic tools is gradually fading. "Analytics will become deeply, but invisibly, embedded everywhere," he said.
Consumerization of Business Intelligence
Eldad Farkash, co-founder and CTO of Sisense, predicts that the term "business Intelligence" will morph into "data intelligence" and that BI will become a more integral part of our lives – even outside the office.
"BI will finally evolve from being a reporting tool into data intelligence that every entity from governments to cities to individuals will use to prevent traffic, detect fraud, track diseases, manage personal health and even notify you when your favorite fruit has arrived at your local market," Farkash said. "We will see the consumerization of BI, where it will extend beyond the business world and become intricately woven into our everyday lives directly impacting the decisions we make."
Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in Florida, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).