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Tuesday, 21 February 2012 18:22

BI heads to the cloud

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A whole new cloud based ecosystem is emerging to support businesses looking to extract business insights from social networks and external data sources - but it will take another three to five years to fully mature. In the meantime enterprises need to take a close look at their approach to information management, as in the future it will be a significant competitive differentiator.

Gartner analyst Eric Thoo today told delegates at the firm's Business Intelligence and Information Management Summit in Sydney was that the real power of the cloud lay in the data collected by many people or organisations, but not necessarily owned by one.

To exploit that data - which might allow a retailer to serve up information to a potential customer just as they were talking on a social network about going shopping - organisations needed to develop new approaches to information management and accept that their current internally focussed data warehouses might not be up to the job.

Gartner has identified business intelligence as the number one issue exercising CIOs in 2012. Consequently the market for BI software in Australia is expected to rise 11.7 per cent to $406.4 million this year.

Meanwhile more and more players in the BI market are starting to roll out cloud based offerings. Bhavish Sood, another Gartner analyst, said that by 2013 every major BI platform vendor will start offering a cloud based version of their systems.

But next year cloud based BI services are only expected to represent a small fraction of the market.

According to Mr Thoo, although there is an emerging data as a service market - effectively BI clouds - with companies offering services from BI hosting, to database hosting, through to master data management and data quality and data integration services all offered on a cloud computing basis, it would take three to five years for this ecosystem to mature.


That gives IT managers a little time to get their head around the enormity and complexity of meshing business insights gleaned from in house data with those insights mined from a host of external sources.  Mr Thoo said that in terms of carving up responsibility for this newly complex BI task; 'It's up to IT to know how to do it, but for the business person to visualise it.'

In the meantime companies with existing data warehouses should be working out how to rearchitect them to cope with exploding amounts of data, not all of which is generated in house.  They also needed to ramp up their information management skills and disciplines he said.

'The companies that understand how to leverage the data that is held outside their own business will win,' he said. 'Information management will be the new differentiation for business thinking.'

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