Future Outlook: Cloud Business Intelligence Solutions Are Closing In
Matt Potts
By Matt Potts
Blog

We’ll see Cloud BI really coming to the forefront in 2015. It’s become a serious contender for organisations of all sizes, particular large enterprises, who look for a platform to enable the concept of Agile Business Intelligence – ensuring information can be accessed and delivered to those who need it in a timely fashion.

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A number of Business Intelligence (BI) Cloud Solutions are causing a real storm in the BI marketplace, with enterprises starting to move away from (or complement) their “traditional” enterprise BI platforms towards more agile Cloud Solutions.

The trend of moving away from traditional on-premise BI platforms to Cloud offerings has been driven by:

  • The need for a single, common and intuitive user interface for a suite of BI tools, rather than a fragmented and interface-inconsistent set of desktop applications
  • The ability to consume and integrate BI into other applications (web, mobile) and documents
  • The requirement for a rich set of data connectors to source data from anywhere (Cloud or on premise) which includes external data, such as social feeds (insight beyond the enterprise)
  • The ability to enable rapid, or even instant time to deployment and value realisation
  • Having the flexibility to dynamically scale the solution, i.e. quickly to a large numbers of users
  • Reducing the reliance on IT for the need for central report development (both new reports and changes/iterations to existing ones – BI doesn’t stand still)
  • Removing the need, and cost on central IT for infrastructure maintenance – including the elimination of patching/upgrades (which has now become a very regular exercise for certain on-premise BI systems) to fix bugs and offer new capabilities

Changing BI Patterns
By reducing the emphasis on the IT department in terms of the development of BI content, businesses can become more agile. Cloud BI Solutions give the business community:

  • True self service of their information requirements, ensuring information can be accessed immediately so timely decisions can be made
  • The ability to spend more time analysing information and deriving insights, as oppose to building off-system reports (data extracts/stitching direct from systems or central reports) to satisfy requirements
  • Quick, anywhere access via an internet connection (through a browser or mobile app)

With no need for hardware in a Cloud BI world, the associated costs and the need for patching and upgrades mean businesses can stay up to date with the latest versions – with bugs fixed and access to the latest functionality without the need for outages or regression testing.
Cloud BI also aligns to a shift we’re seeing in BI economics, which is an evolving trend change relating to:

  • Who the key buyer of BI is (Lines of business rather than IT)
  • How the BI spend is justified (functionality/capability focused rather than technology focused)
  • How the cost of BI is accounted for (ongoing operating expenses rather than capital expenses) with the subscription based models that Cloud BI brings

Traditional BI Solutions are purchased by the CIO’s offices where as Cloud BI is being purchased from the business departments (Sales, Marketing, Finance, HR and Supply Chain) who are the ultimate consumers of the system anyhow.

Summary

We’ll see Cloud BI really coming to the forefront in 2015. It’s become a serious contender for organisations of all sizes, particular large enterprises, who look for a platform to enable the concept of Agile BI – ensuring information can be accessed and delivered to those who need it in a timely fashion. This is proving to be a real shift in how BI is deployed within organisations and is disrupting the BI norm for many businesses, driven from the information needs and requirements coming from the lines of business.

Three particular solutions to look out for are Birst, Power BI (from Microsoft) and Lumira.

Birst offers a two tiered solution, allowing Cloud Data Warehousing (along with all of the ETL) and the Data Visualisation Tools. Their range of data connectivity options is extremely comprehensive, including connectivity to SAP ERP, BW and HANA. Birst have also partnered with SAP to allow HANA to become the Cloud Data Warehousing element.

Microsoft’s Power BI offer integration in its Office suite as well as some very compelling capabilities such as the ability to ask questions using natural language and get instantaneous answers as interactive charts and graphs.

SAP’s Lumira Cloud is built on SAP HANA Cloud Platform, and offers flexible subscription options and scale as you grow. It’s fair to say that SAP’s investment in BI will focus heavily on Lumira moving forward. Those that use Lumira desktop, possibly as part of their BI suite licences can publish and share visualisations to the Cloud.

Matt Potts
By Matt Potts

Matt Potts is Solution Principal for Business Insights, specialising in Business Intelligence and Analytics. Matt has worked in the BI domain for over 8 years, helping organisations turn their data into actionable business insights through the use of agile BI platforms and delivery models. He is involved with multiple clients across varying lines of business and industries, working with them to ensure they realise the value from their investment in BI technologies. Outside of work Matt enjoys running, cycling and watching a range of sports and is kept busy by DIY projects at home.

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