Far from resting on its laurels, the business intelligence (BI) community must stay true to its mission of leveraging information for strategic advantage. No matter how the universe is defined, most surveys report that the current BI tool user base is smaller than it should be. Competitive advantages once delivered by standard BI query, reporting and analysis products are becoming commoditized. Consolidation of separate tools into larger suites and the "mainstreaming" effect of Microsoft's growing presence mean that the adventurous must push out further to capture the next information edge.
Part of BI's new frontier comes into focus by incorporating tools for search and analysis of unstructured information, which through metadata and semantic integration can let decision-makers combine internal and external sources to gain a complete, single view of objects of interest. BI's other adventure may involve the loss of its separate identity. Process management, service-oriented architecture and real-time information applications are fueling growth in embedded analytics, activity monitoring and agent-based event alerting.
No matter how adventurous, BI is successful only if project leaders gain business users' support by demonstrating strategic value. A solid underlying data strategy is essential. Tool standardization will save money and improve BI coherence, but shouldn't come at the expense of satisfying the never-ending urge for insight.