Trend No. 2: Market consolidation means fewer choices for business intelligence users.
Independent business intelligence companies may soon be a memory. First, Oracle bought Hyperion in February. Then in early October, SAP made a bid for Business Objects. That leaves Cognos and MicroStrategy as potential takeover targets, with speculation growing that Cognos will be next.
On the one hand, there may be some advantages to having large vendors in the business intelligence arena. Traditionally, business intelligence is not a top-of-mind investment for companies, but rather a sort of afterthought once the major application decisions were made, says John Hagerty, an analyst at AMR Research.
As large vendors integrate business intelligence capabilities, BI will be easier to integrate into that vendor's applications. Furthermore, investment in business intelligence may become more of a core decision, he says.
One the other hand, as independent business intelligence companies are acquired by the giants, many practitioners and experts worry that "the software provider you'd like to use will end up in the hands of a vendor you don't want to do business with," says Hagerty. Moreover, the company that does the acquiring may not fit into your current architecture; competing technical stacks may became an issue, he says.
"What I'm seeing is clients determining which vendor they want to use, then the logical question is, Who's going to buy this company? It's on everyone's mind and that uncertainty causes people not to move or to move to an alternative that they think won't change." So market consolidation could make it easier to get BI, but users may be left with fewer choices.
Trend No. 3: Business intelligence expands from the board room to the front lines.
Increasingly, business intelligence tools will be available at all levels of the corporation. Operational business intelligence - which brings business intelligence to employees on the front lines - is growing especially fast, industry watchers say.
Boris Evelson, an analyst with Forrester research, says operational business intelligence will include offerings that integrate data and process dashboards, and event-driven systems that initiate a business process based on certain data conditions.
For example, integrating business intelligence into operational processes could allow companies to react faster to changing business conditions, for example, alerting a call centre worker to offer a particular promotion or to potential credit card fraud.