Is Business Intelligence Dead or Alive?

2012 has been the year of the great business intelligence debate: Is it dead or alive?

This debate is certainly not new. In 2010, a Gartner report showed BI was steadily dropping to No. 5 as a priority for CIOs. Gartner’s Mark McDonald wrote in February 2010: “The shift is the subject of significant interest and discussion among CIOs, the media and research community.  Is BI dead?  Does this mean that companies have given up on data warehouses, analytics and the rest?  What does this say about CIOs and enterprises that have invested heavily in BI for the past five years – were they wrong?”

He believed BI was the last major technology to move through the “heavy weight” model of technology. It was becoming the Commodore 64 in the land of slick PCs.

“BI has gone through that same investment pattern and it may be the last given the availability of Software as a Service, Cloud and Web 2.0 solutions,” McDonald said.

Two years later, analysts have largely fallen in the middle on the subject, saying that BI is still effective if the businesses are listening. The technology is providing excellent data, but businesses are just not acting on the material.

Analyst Neil Raden wrote in this avant-garde era of Big Data, cloud, mobile and social, the whole topic of BI is a little ‘derriere.’

“BI is a phenomenon of the previous two decades, but the worldwide market for BI tools (not including services or surrounding technologies such as data warehousing and data integration) is greater than $10 billion per year,” Raden wrote. “It’s still a very significant market and will, for some time, dwarf spending on the Big Data top gun, Hadoop, which is an open source distribution.  The lion’s share of revenue in the Big Data market will continue to be hardware and services, not software, unless you consider the application of existing technologies, especially database and data integration software, as part of Big Data.”

Raden concluded today’s BI won’t be tomorrow’s BI.

He said: “Will BI survive? Yes, but we may not recognize it. The need to analyze and use data that are produced in other systems will never go away, but BI will be wrapped in new technologies that provide a more complete set of tools. Instead of managing from scarcity of computing resources, BI will be part of a ‘decision management’ continuum — the amalgam of predictive modeling, machine learning, natural language processing, business rules, traditional BI and visualization and collaboration capabilities.”

In other words, as said, embrace the BI change