It's clear - the future of business intelligence (BI) looks promising, as evidenced by a very simple fact: more organizations are expanding their use of BI or are at least considering it. META Group expects the BI software market to grow 10 to 15 percent annually. To understand and appreciate current BI technology trends and place them into context, an understanding of influencing factors and organizational issues is helpful.

Despite the significant economic improvement during the last 12 months, the prior three-year period impacted the way BI software vendors viewed their customers and enhanced their products. Before 2000, organizations purchased BI software in hopes of creating value or solving a problem. Then, the economy soured. Fortunately, BI was one of a few technology sectors that did not experience a dramatic reduction in spending. However, the sales cycle became much longer as potential buyers wanted to understand the associated benefits, return on investment (ROI) and total cost of ownership (TCO) of a BI solution. The longer and more challenging sales cycle forced BI software vendors to evaluate their product offerings and instill a greater discipline in their sales process.

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