The end of each year warrants a look at the key trends that may take hold in the coming months. Mobility, cloud computing, bring-your-own-device (BYOD), and big data topics are clearly influencing the business intelligence industry. However, major market players such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Samsung and others are producing the technology to make these developments possible. The question becomes: are the trends paving the way for these companies to produce the technology, or is the existence of the technology influencing the trends? I believe the latter – that Amazon, Apple, Google and Samsung are the true pioneers of the BI industry.
In 2014, we’re not going to see much in the way of wholly new trends, even though some experts are already forecasting more innovations. Gartner, for example, has singled out voice-controlled BI as a hot topic. However, the idea of being able to control BI processes by voice instead of through user interfaces is more of a fantasy than a realistic business requirement. Instead, the focus for 2014 will be on developments that are already possible and how to integrate these into the corporate IT environment. Big data for one has been a subject of discussion for years. In 2014, there will be more talk about the benefits and value provided by the increasingly larger amounts of data. Primarily though, it is the underlying technical innovations created by industry giants such as Amazon and Apple that are driving the development of BI and the requirements of the market.
Mobile BI Thanks to Tablets and Smartphones
Last week, our CEO posted an article about his own predictions for BI in 2012. After reading it, I thought about surveying arcplan employees about the trends they see coming to the forefront over the next 12 months. They suggested that the hype around mobile, collaborative, and cloud BI that we saw this year will come to fruition in 2012. We published a press release today that highlights these trends and what we can expect to see next year:
BI Trends 2012 – From Hype to Breakthrough
The market for Business Intelligence (BI) in 2011 was shaped by three much-hyped themes: mobile BI, collaborative BI and cloud BI. While vendors and analysts are driving the buzz around these new technologies, users have thus far hesitated to fully embrace them as they explore what their business benefits might be. Will 2012 be the year that mobile, collaborative and cloud BI go mainstream? Global BI innovator arcplan dares to look into its crystal ball to see what technologies will break through in the coming year.
Mobile BI – Simplified Entry
The hype around mobile BI was clear this year, but did the talk result in concrete implementations? According to The BI Survey 10 from analysts BARC, only 8% of companies using BI software access their reports in mobile form – an astonishingly low number if you consider that mobile BI is being lauded by analysts and the media as the next big thing, and users are clamoring for mobile solutions.
So why hasn’t this hype translated to action yet? So far, Apple has dominated the market for mobile devices with the iPhone and iPad, which are only conditionally compatible with business applications. This will change in 2012 when Microsoft and Phone 7 return to the market with a focus on both the business sector and the consumer market, which will set it apart from Apple. Companies are looking beyond the Apple platform for cost-effective mobile BI solutions, and in 2012, they will encounter Microsoft’s new Metro Design, which will simplify entry into mobile BI tremendously. This concept, fueled by clean typeface and balanced design, can be used on Phone 7 as well as any other mobile device and is well suited for business applications. Furthermore, Web apps – in contrast to native apps – will meet the demand for an efficient entry into the world of mobile business applications. Due to their develop once/deploy anywhere nature, they offer businesses the chance to productively use mobile BI apps on any platform (Apple, Microsoft, Android, etc.) and independent of cumbersome approval processes or other restrictions in manufacturer-controlled app stores.
Collaborative BI – The Democratization of Knowledge
2012 will be the year in which companies realize the promise of collaborative BI when information becomes democratized…
Organizations cannot appl(e)aud a vendor lock-in
Now that modern mobile devices (e.g. smartphones, table PCs) have made great strides in their rich user interfaces and people are accustomed to using them in daily life, they’re becoming ubiquitous in the workplace as well. Checking email and synching calendars to mobile devices are common tasks for business people, many of whom are hungry for richer business applications – like mobile BI apps that allow them to interact with their performance information anywhere, anytime. Mobile BI is on the top list of projects for decision support at organizations around the world, and managers are eagerly looking at solutions currently on the market and learning that they’re one of two breeds: native apps or Web apps. Which one is the future of mobile BI?
Native apps are applications that are device-specific – that is, they are platform and hardware dependent. They became necessary when Apple launched the iPhone and forced all developers to create applications specific to the device to be sold on its App Store. Since 2007, developers have created hundreds of thousands of native apps for iPhone that have been downloaded billions of times. But all of these apps need to run through the evaluation process of a single company for a single device category.
Although the iPhone has made some strides into the corporate world – managers do love these gadgets for their stylishness, ease of use, and the device-specific applications themselves – competition isn’t standing still. Many BI vendors have developed native apps to run on iPhones and iPads or have at least provided a front-end interpreter to handle BI presentation layers. But at what cost? Is it worth it for these vendors to put their focus on a single platform when there is an alternative? Does the small bit of increased functionality in a native app justify the decision to go that direction?
A recent Gartner report shows that Android will be the leading platform for mobile devices at the end of 2011 and that Microsoft, with their Nokia partnership in place, is expected to gain back a decent market share. Neither Google nor Microsoft are betting on a “walled garden” approach, but instead heavily promote Web apps.
So what makes Web apps different than native apps?