Our continuing series on trends and predictions for 2008 looks this time at the evolving market for business intelligence solutions. (part of that evolution is focused on what exactly does "business intelligence" mean in the first place?) Here's what Oco Inc., a provider of BI software under the software-as-a-service (Saas) model, thinks will happen this year, with comments from Bill Copacino, the company's president and CEO. Copacino, some of you might remember, ran Accenture's supply chain practice for a number of years, so he's an old hand at this trend-watching game.
Previous installments of our "Trend Watch 2008" series can be seen here:
# 1: Outsourcing Will Shift from Asia to the Americas in 2008
# 2: Weaker Dollar Could Make U.S.A. More Attractive to Automakers
# 3: RFID Will Be So Pervasive That You'll Soon Stop Hearing About It
1. BI Goes Diagonal
In 2008, we will see the era of vertical or horizontal BI solutions converging toward diagonal solutions -- those focused on specific business problems extending across similar industries. Examples of these types of solutions include applications for calculating product margins with vendor-specific adjustments, or reducing transportation costs for companies in the retail, consumer packaged goods, and discrete manufactured product segments. Business intelligence providers will incorporate detailed functional knowledge into their products to deliver diagonally oriented BI solutions.
2. BI Best Practices
As we have seen happen with many software applications, BI customers will insist on best practices for key metrics to measure and improve their businesses. The convergence of dashboard and metrics consulting companies with analytics tool providers will result in new packages of best practices by industry and function.
3. Technology will Move from an IT Priority to a Business
Decision IT departments have typically set the technology agenda for corporations.
They have established technology standards, architectural guidelines, and infrastructure and tool requirements based on traditional approaches to business needs. Now, business users are taking more control, and in 2008, we will see them continue to move into the driver's seat, not only deciding which type of technology to use, but also selecting which business model and, in some cases, which vendor to support their business needs.
4. Growth of the "IT Light" Solution Model
Typically, IT organizations have a list of critical and pressing projects that would take years to address. Forward-thinking organizations are looking more strategically at their projects, deciding which ones can be addressed using business models and vendors that don't require full-time oversight, involvement, and ongoing maintenance. The growth of the IT light solutions will continue to gain momentum in 2008 and make BI accessible to mid-sized markets. Early signs include the increased outsourcing of IT maintenance to U.S. and Indian offshore service providers and increased use of Software-as-a Service (SaaS) models.
In 2008, we'll also see the introduction of more quick-start programs and accelerators in the marketplace, which will enable organizations to implement solutions in a shorter timeframe.
"BI has gained incredible popularity within organizations of all sizes," says Bill Copacino. "Given the economic environment and competitive pressures that are anticipated for 2008, organizations will continue to be interested in solutions that can be implemented rapidly and provide immediate results. Cost-effective solutions that do not require extensive IT involvement will gain momentum."
5. BI Adoption Rate Expands into Small and Medium-Sized Organizations
While large companies have been early adopters of BI because their business models have been well suited to its benefits, we will see BI become more mainstream in 2008. BI will increasingly penetrate into medium and smaller companies as more affordable solutions evolve that can cost effectively meet their needs.