There’s no question that big data is evolving in ways that are creating both headaches and opportunities for enterprise IT. In fact, the whole area of business intelligence (BI) is changing so rapidly that it can be hard to figure out what trends will have the biggest impact on your business.
Here are three BI trends that are high on companies’ priority lists right now – at least based on the flood of requests we’ve seen to collaborate with them by providing the knowledgeable, experienced specialists they need to round out their IT team for the new year.
Which of these is first on your priority list for 2013? Or is a different BI trend keeping you busy right now?
Mobile BI: A Flood of New Data – With a Voice!
There’s no question that the growth in mobile computing platforms is having a huge impact on business intelligence. For one thing, it’s created a flood of new data that has to be collected, stored, managed, and analyzed. For another, it’s provided a range of new devices that can be used to present and use BI data.
For now, most enterprises are treating smartphones as data sources rather than true BI tools, largely because of the small screen on most devices. We’re hearing a lot about using smart phones as tactical devices in areas like optimizing deliveries or collecting data – but it’s the tablet market where we’re seeing a lot of new BI applications that are drawing interest from enterprise IT management.
One of the most interesting business intelligent application trends that enterprises are eager to adopt is the idea of giving BI a voice, using the ability of smartphones, tablets and PCs to take and receive voice instruction. Think about the Apple’s Siri program’s potential as a BI tool – ask, “What color widget was ordered most often last month?” and get back a simple voice response, “The blue widget.” You could even get a text message that includes a photo of the widget along with information about it. We’re seeing an increase in projects to translate voice queries into SQL requests, and expect to see voice added to the stack of BI options before the end of the year.
Redefining Big Data: Isn’t All Data Important?
The point at which data is defined as “big data” has never been clear. Now, the vendors and industry analysts are starting to talk about all data, not “big data”. The source and form of the data – not just the sheer size of the rapidly growing streams of it – is the issue when it comes to making it clean, timely, and usable for your company.
One of the biggest trends in BI is the addition of “human sourced data” from social media to the data streams being analyzed by BI applications. Most enterprise BI applications – especially legacy apps written or extensively customized internally – were already struggling with machine generated data from sensors, log files, and so on. So adding the additional flood of social media data being generated through social listening and customer service applications is increasing the complexity of the task.
The International Telecommunications Union says that there will be about 25 billion connected devices in the world by 2020, so the volume of data is going to continue to increase rapidly.
Many InfoVision clients are in regulated industries like telecom, finance and banking, pharmaceuticals, energy and utilities, healthcare and insurance, transportation or retail. These companies have no choice but to make the required investment in hardware, software, staff, and organizational processes to handle the big data flood securely, and within the ever-changing regulatory framework.
Predictive Analytics: Sentimental About Data?
Predictive analytics has been a hot trend for the last two years, and it’s not cooling off anytime soon. One reason is that in the post-recession economy, multi-channel marketing strategies are essential for most companies – and the more communications channels a company uses to reach its customers, the more streams of unstructured data it collects for its BI analysis.
Analyzing that data quickly and accurately helps to target existing customers more efficiently, reach new customers at lower cost, and streamline marketing across channels. Mining that data creates a predictive model that presents a better picture of who your customers are, what products and services they want, how they behave online and offline, and what strategies and channels you need to use to keep communicating effectively with them.
Sentiment analysis is one of the newer BI analytics trends. The Harvard Business Review published an article called “The End of Solution Selling” last July, reporting on how social media and search engines now result in over 60 percent of a typical purchasing decision happening before the potential buyer ever interacts with the supplier.
This makes it critical for companies to collect and analyze data about what people are saying about their products, services, marketing initiatives and other areas that affect sales so that they can respond quickly and correctly. It’s this kind of “human sourced” data that allows BI providers to add sentiment analysis capabilities into their solutions.
If your organization isn’t already mining for this information as part of your existing BI analysis activity, chances are you’ll be adding the capability in the year ahead.