January 2014 saw BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT produce its first State of Play report on business intelligence (BI). What’s changed for 2015? Brian Runciman MBCS reports.

The 2015 IT spending forecast from computerworld.com listed five areas where respondents expected increased spending, and third position went to analytics and business intelligence. Harnessing big data through enterprise analytics, data mining and BI had 38 per cent of IT executive respondents to the survey expecting to spend.

They quote Gartner analyst Richard Gordon on the new data coming into the enterprise: ‘There’s a wave of data coming from customers and social media. And as the internet of things rolls out, there will be even more information on customers. Businesses are scrambling to figure out how they can extract value from that information.’

According to Andrew Brust, Research Director of Gigaom Research, in each of the last few years there has been an overarching theme in the data arena. He says that ‘2012 was the year big data became really hot; 2013 was the year it grew more accessible, through SQL-on-Hadoop; and 2014 was the year it became far more versatile, with the addition of YARN and Spark. 2015 will be the year Hadoop matures.’

Whilst that may mean that there are no huge breakthroughs, Brust notes that the maturing of BI technologies will see a move to more standardisation, more adoption and therefore a more successful integration of BI into the enterprise.

He predicts that Hadoop will become more usable, more adoptable by the enterprise and more developer friendly. More on Hadoop, NoSQL and relational databases are in the Gigaom report ‘Outlook: Big data and analytics in 2015’ (see link below).

The mention of analytics in that title is key - there has been a lot more coverage during 2014 on the role of analytics. BI solutions are more readily embraced the more obvious their benefit is, so easy-to-use analytics are key to a successful BI platform.

Big data continues to be a much-bandied phrase, especially as it relates to predictive analytics, but of course many industries have been using data and analytics for decades - the new tools just make it much easier. One article is the BCS report shows the potential benefits of predictive analytics for the healthcare industry. ‘IT Professional’ magazine examines what is truly new in terms of predictive analytics, and what it means for the IT industry.

Pat Saporito from the SAP Global Centere of Excellence for Analytics, says that BI centres of excellence can play a key role in managing corporate growth and in enhancing the ‘analytic IQ’ of business managers and owners. He shows that centres of excellence can define and operationalise a Bl strategy, and ensure that the analytics get put into action.

Amongst other areas discussed, the BCS report highlights pieces that look at the need for supply chain organisations to use effective business intelligence tools to stay competitive; the role of real-time data warehousing as a powerful technique to achieve operational business intelligence; and the increasing use of BI outside commercial organisations.

For example, public sector offices in the US are now expected to perform like private industries in collecting and providing pertinent information, according to one piece in the report. Even though the use of BI in the public sector is still in its infancy, the case study from the DeKalb Country Government located in Georgia, which has implemented business intelligence tools for its data management including social services, billing and public safety, makes for an interesting read.

In other areas, there are three case studies looking at the use of business intelligence tools by accounting firms in the USA. And in terms of practical applications, the BCS report covers an article on how one Fortune 500 company built itself a real-world Microsoft BI dashboard; a piece on how BI can support marketing strategies, based on a case study approach; and an article on how to take control of your BI with the tools offered by SharePoint 2013 and Microsoft SQL Server 2012.

Further reading