Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The BI Year in Review

The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) published in December a retrospective called The BI Year in Review. The retrospective, written by Stephen Swoyer, is a well-detailed article about what happened in BI area in 2011. Below is a summary of the article:

Interacting with BI Apps and the Impact of Mobile Computing

In 2011, the evolving BI usage paradigm officially moved beyond the desktop LCD: smartphones and tablets aren’t simply being supported, they’re being actively cultivated. One upshot of this is that nearly every purveyor of BI client offerings has a mobile or tablet strategy that tends to mix support for mobile devices of all kinds -- chiefly via HTML5-based Web applications -- and device-specific support, usually (but not always) limited to Apple Inc.’s iOS devices.

For now, let’s just say that the way in which we interact with BI is going to change. Drastically. After all, it already has changed, and what we expect from BI applications has changed, too. Even before 2011, innovation in BI had already outstripped the bread-and-butter contexts in which business intelligence had been served up for decades. These old-school interfaces -- viz., spreadsheets, with their cells, rows, and columns; static charts, diagrams, scorecards, and so on -- haven’t so much been replaced as been supplemented: enriched.

Advanced Social Studies

The socialization of BI has been inexorable. Not fast. Not slow. Inexorable. The trend this year might be called Creeping Socialization. It was a phenomenon in which at least a dozen BI vendors kicked off efforts to retrofit their offerings with social media (or social media-like) capabilities.

However, 2011 wasn’t the year in which BI first became social. Nor was it the year in which BI completed its social makeover. It was, instead, the first full year in which the industry gravitated, inexorably and irrevocably, toward social BI.

No Room for Squares

BI usage models aren’t the only things changing. This year brought a reconfiguration of the industry pecking order, with the emergence of several small or upstart competitors and the reinvention -- or reorientation -- of a number of established players, too. Several vendors say they’re exploiting gaps in the existing BI marketplace: i.e., segments, pain points, or use cases that they say are ill-served by existing offerings -- or by existing usage paradigms.

Changes in Attitude

Established players repositioned themselves to exploit opportunities in the ever-evolving data integration (DI) and data virtualization (DV) marketplace.

Maximum Consumption

Few industries have produced as much acquisition activity as the BI space over the last decade. This year, consolidation in the analytic database arena -- long-anticipated, and, starting in 2010, partially realized -- continued apace, with Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) gobbling up columnar database powerhouse Vertica Inc. Not to be outdone, Teradata Inc. acquired analytic database highflier Aster Data Inc. Along with the former Greenplum Software Inc., which was acquired last year by EMC Corp., Aster was one of the first two analytic database entrants to bring a native implementation of MapReduce to market. There are still plenty of extant analytic database competitors, however. Veterans Infobright, Kognitio, and ParAccel, along with newer entrants including Algebraix Data Corp. and Actian Corp. (the former Ingres Corp.), seem determined to keep things interesting.

Also this year, Oracle Corp. ponied up $1 billion to acquire Endeca Corp., an established vendor that specialized in faceted search. Although search was indisputably Endeca’s bread and butter -- its technology is used to power at least half of the Top 100 e-commerce sites -- the company believed it could make a big splash in the BI market, too.

A Torrent of Tablets

Enterprise IT organizations are proceeding apace with tablet computing adoption efforts: many are already using iPads (or, less frequently, competitive tablet offerings) in production, while most are at least mulling tablet strategies.

A study from software development researcher Evans Data Corp. found that a majority of mobile developers are focusing on Web apps instead of native apps -- in spite of the dominance of the iPad or (in the small-form-factor mobile arena) the iOS or Android platforms.

This is a good retrospective on the BI area in 2011. The BI scenario is changing dramatically, with new concepts, technologies and tools. I believe that 2012 will be no different.

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