As I promised in my last year “BI Crystal Ball” blog, business intelligence will look very different in the near future. Indeed most of the 20 next generation BI trends that I list in this blog are actually here today! And, as my colleague Alex Cullen wrote in his recent research document on 15 Technologies That Matter (where of course BI is front and center), these are the technologies that indeed matter. I picked these 20 trends not because the market labels them as trendy, but because I have tons of evidence that the buy side of the BI market can use these technologies today. These technologies can address the real pain points, gaps and challenges that most knowledge workers are faced with today.

So what has really changed? The “what-has-to-be-done” of BI has not changed, and will probably not change in the foreseeable future. One would still need to discover, ingest, persist, measure, analyze, report, deliver and act on information. The real trick is “how-it-will-be-done”. I categorize all major next gen BI trends under 4 categories: Automation, Unification, Pervasiveness and No Borders/No Limitations. Here’s my take on what they are:

Automation

  • Automated Information Discovery. Automatically discover source data based on metadata, content and rules.
  • Actionable and Collaborative. Automate actions on results gleaned from BI reports and analysis.
  • Contextual (process, desktop, visual). 1) Process: BI is aware of process context; 2) Desktop: BI is aware of desktop (open documents, open emails) context; 3) Visual: gestural, not instrumented visualization manipulation (akin to video games).
  • Built-in expertise. Sensing what the user is doing and providing proactive hints.
  • End-to-end lifecycle management. Automatically changing and updating all interdependent BI components.
  • Decision Management. Automatically documenting and automating all business decisions.
  • Self learning and adaptive. Automatically modifying data model based on reporting and analysis usage.

Unification

  • Logically unified sources. Logical views independent of physical data location and model
  • Data and content. Seamless integration of structured data and unstructured content
  • Disk and streaming. Seamless integration of data stored in disk based DBMS (historical, batch) and in streaming, in memory DBMS (real time)
  • Historical, current and predictive. Seamless integration of historical, current, and predictive reporting and analysis
  • Metadata. Unified ETL, data quality, BI, portal, content, process, rules metadata

Pervasiveness

  • Within processes. BI in processes, automatically comes up when a decision needs to be made by a human
  • Within Information Workspace. Integration with all IW components: search, ECM, email
  • Self Service. Casual user and power user self service, including, but not limited to BI SaaS.
  • Offline, disconnected. Seamless operation in offline / disconnected mode
  • Mobile. Delivery and analysis on mobile devices

No Borders

  • On-demand data models.Reporting and analysis without limitations of underlying data models, aka “post discovery
  • Unlimited dimensionality. Ability to visually analyze many dimensions at the same time
  • Exploration + analysis.Seamless integration of search-like technology to find the data and BI-like technology to report and analyze the results of the search

Drop me a note if you’d like more details on each of these trends, including top vendors that even today have capabilities in these areas.
Boris Evelson also blogs at http://blogs.forrester.com/business_process/.