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3/20/2008
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Gartner: Emerging Technologies Will Help Drive Mainstream BI Adoption

The technologies expected to breakdown today's hurdles to wider adoption of business intelligence include interactive visualization, in-memory analytics, search integrated with BI, software as a service and service-oriented architecture, Gartner says.

Five emerging technologies will be instrumental in making it easier to build and consume analytical applications with less involvement from IT staff, a research firm says.

The technologies expected to breakdown today's hurdles to wider adoption of business intelligence include interactive visualization, in-memory analytics, search integrated with BI, software as a service and service-oriented architecture, Gartner said in a report released this week. These innovations will be in a position by 2012 to take BI well beyond the 15% to 20% of businesspeople using it aggressively today.

"As a result of this innovation, individuals and workgroups will be less dependent on central IT departments to meet their BI requirements," Gartner analyst Kurt Schlegel said in a statement. "BI teams need to understand how to leverage these emerging technologies to drive BI adoption, but do it in a way that doesn’t undermine the organization’s existing BI architecture and standards."

Gartner expects interactive visualization to become the common front end to analytical applications over the next couple of years. Built with emerging Web 2.0 development tools, these displays should be more widely adopted by people who are not accustomed to the grid style of analysis and reporting offered by relational databases and spreadsheets.

Rather than have to learn spreadsheets, people will be able to perform typical BI tasks, including data filters, drill down and pivots, by interacting with the visual, such as clicking on a pie wedge, or circling the dots on a scatter plot, Gartner said.

In-memory analytics is emerging as an alternative to IT staff building aggregate and summary tables to optimize BI on disc-based data storage, a scenario that impedes rather than foster self-service BI, Gartner said. With in-memory analytics, IT staff doesn't have to build a performance layer for business users. Also driving the trend is falling memory prices and the prevalence of 64-bit computing.

Search integrated with BI can drive adoption in two ways, Gartner said. First, search enables users to find existing reports, a real challenge when one considers most large organizations have hundreds or thousands of reports that were built autonomously with almost no regard for common naming conventions.

Secondly, a search index can be applied to structured data sources, rows and columns, to give people the ability to perform their own ad hoc exploration of the data.

Smaller companies with limited funds will increasingly turn to BI service providers that integrate, analyze and report on data from numerous systems, Gartner said. The software-as-a-service business model is expected to be particular appealing to midsize companies, but even large companies with BI and data warehouse teams are likely to embrace the SaaS model for some aspects of BI. The best example of widespread use of the SaaS model today is in Web site analytics.

Also expected to accelerate the move toward the SaaS model is the increasing trend toward business process outsourcing and cloud computing.

Finally, SOA, coupled with wider adoption of a model-driven architecture that's based on a visual "drag and drop" development, will make it easier to build BI applications, Gartner said. This style of development will drive a resurgence in departmental analytical application development. At the same time, however, an organization may find itself with more rogue deployments that don't follow standards set by a central BI team in the IT department.

Gartner's BI report, entitled "Emerging Technologies Will Drive Self-Service Business Intelligence," is available on the firm's Web site. Gartner analysts are schedule to further discuss the impact of emerging technologies on BI at the Gartner Business Intelligence Summit April 1-3 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

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