BI Will Be Pervasive

Business intelligence (BI) by 2012 will move from a data management process to a more strategically focused role, according to analysts at the Gartner Business Intelligence Summit 2006 in Chicago Monday. As a result, enterprise software vendors serving organizations' CRM, ERP, and BPM needs will be competing for customers with traditional BI providers. "By 2012 BI will be integral to 85 percent of business applications," says Bill Hostmann, Gartner vice president of research. "Business intelligence is evolving from opportunistic deployments in a few departments in support of tactical decision-making, to more pervasive and integrated enterprisewide applications used to drive business transformations from the strategic to the process level." Companies are increasingly linking BI with corporate objectives, so they're looking for ways to support different parts of their organizations with BI tools, according to Betsy Burton, Gartner distinguished analyst. "Through 2009 companies will increase their spending 7 percent per year on business intelligence technology," says Colleen Graham, Gartner principal analyst. "This is new spending. This doesn't include maintenance for BI technology that's already in place." Adding to the significance of the increased spending is the fact that after the severe technology spending cuts in 2002 and 2003, IT expenditures today are still below where they were in 2001, Graham adds. "CIOs rank business intelligence as their number-one priority. Three years ago, it wasn't even in the top 10." BI providers must ensure that these tools are easy to deploy, because many new users won't have technical backgrounds, according to Kurt Schlegel, Gartner research director. In the next few years, the goal for adding BI will be seamlessness, even for the nontechnical user. "Some people will be using business intelligence without even knowing it," Schlegel says. BI can start in whatever part of the enterprise that is ready for it first, but organizations need to plan ahead with enterprisewide adoption, to prevent different units from installing competing BI applications that don't integrate with one another. Because future BI users will come from different parts of the enterprise, they will use different terminologies for business intelligence and its components, Hostmann adds. So it's important for BI vendors to recognize this when presenting the capabilities of their products. "You need to expand your horizons around how you're supporting the business supply chain," Hostmann says. "The people in ERP will be looking for analytics; the people in HR will want analytics; the CIO will want business intelligence and the business analysts will want OLAP and data mining capabilities." Hostmann recommends that users map out their current BI portfolios, including tools, applications, and embedded technologies, to understand the degree to which BI is already being used throughout the organization. BI users should also assess the organization's commitment to the technology and understand what parts of the business are not being supported with BI. To get the most out of BI in the future, Hostmann recommends that companies adopt an organizational structure that will create a culture to support and manage BI, such as a business intelligence competency center. "By 2012, BI will be strategic for business processes," Burton says. "Companies are not going to make decisions without it." Related articles: Bigger BI Budgets Are CIOs' Priority for '06
Gartner predicts strong growth for this rapidly expanding market, but not before companies start to look at BI as the means to strategic IT planning. Gartner Releases Its BI Magic Quadrant Business Objects, Cognos, Information Builders, and SAS Institute are setting the standards in BI. Business Objects Leads the Pack in BI ROI An evaluation observes that standardization is growing as a trend, but that dashboards are driving BI adoption.
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