Gartner's 5 predictions for BI in 2009 and beyond

Poor business decisions, SaaS, mashups, and more are on tap in the foreseeable future of business intelligence

Through 2012 more than 35 percent of the largest 5,000 companies will regularly fail to make insightful decisions about significant changes in their business and markets, according to analyst house Gartner.

That's Gartner's first, out of five, predictions for the business intelligence fray for 2009 through 2012.

Not surprisingly -- particularly in these turbulent economic times -- the overarching theme of BI will be to combat such errors and to instead deliver greater business value, the research firm said.

Gartner's second prediction is that by 2012 business units, rather than IT, will control at least 40 percent of the total budget for BI. The problem here, Gartner wrote, is that "business users have lost confidence in the ability of [IT] to deliver the information they need to make decisions."

So business units will increase spending on packaged analytics, including corporate performance management, predictive analytics, and online marketing BI wares. In so doing, however, they "risk creating silos of applications and information, which will limit cross-function analysis, add complexity, and delay corporate planning and execution of changes," said Nigel Rayner, research vice president at Gartner, in a prepared statement.

Gartner's third prediction is that by 2012, 20 percent of companies will sign up for an SaaS-style industry-specific analytic application. As they prepare to do so, Gartner recommends that IT align with business users to incorporate a manageable number of niche vertical providers into their BI portfolios.

Fourth prediction: This year collaborative decision making will emerge as a new product category. It will meld social software into the larger BI platform capabilities to tap into what Gartner calls a groundswell of interest in informal collaboration.

"Social software allows users to tag assumptions made in the decision-making process to the BI framework," Kurt Schlegel, Gartner research vice president commented in the report. "This approach dramatically improves the business value of BI because it ties all the good stuff BI delivers (e.g. analytical insights, KPIs) directly to decisions made in the business."

And Gartner's fifth prediction is that by 2012 one-third of analytic applications applied to business processes will be delivered via coarse-grained mashups. IT shops are no longer focusing on grand visions such as SOA, which involve building composite applications out of fine-grained services or portals that merely display operational and analytical information next to each other, the analyst firm explained. Coarse-grained mashups, on the other hand, can be used to overlay analytical insights.

As IT shops move to make the most out of their BI platforms in the coming years, Gartner offers this piece of advice:

"Businesses should not trust their mega-vendor to solve all their integration problems. Vendors move slowly to integrate the disparate code bases they have acquired," Gartner explained in the report.  "Reliance on one vendor also limits the ability to use best-of-breed capabilities and weakens the buyer's negotiating position."

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