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Business Intelligence in 2021: What’s Trending?

SoftwareReviews has launched its 2021 Business Intelligence Data Quadrant. So, what’s new and exciting?

First of all, this latest Data Quadrant once again confirms the vivid dynamics within the business intelligence (BI) space: nobody has remained in the same position as last year. Some vendors have changed positions drastically, and some products have disappeared entirely. There are also newcomers – some of which jumped right into the most visible part of the quadrant. Even within the Data Quadrant Report, vendor positions change from category to category; there is no single uncontestable leader in all categories.

Source: SoftwareReviews BI Data Quadrant, February 2021.

Another notable trend we see is the greater importance placed on the end result (e.g. executive and operational dashboards) rather than the process (e.g. self-service, although this feature still remains important for end users). The thirst for business-user enablement has been quenched, and now we are back to the basics: business intelligence is about arranging data visually so that decision makers can derive new insights from it, confirm or overturn their assumptions, or see something they may have missed due to being focused elsewhere.

Several BI vendors have added data preparation capabilities to their offerings, turning their products into all-in-one platforms with end-to-end (from data acquisition to data visualization) technology support. The main problem observed so far: when such a platform gets into the hands of business users without due IT support and governance, it can quickly turn into a complete and unmanageable mess because business users may not have adequate knowledge or training about:

  • Data progression phases (raw, staged/cleansed, enriched/augmented, derived, etc.)
  • Data governance (cataloging, consistent/centralized computational transformations, etc.)
  • Solution governance (Development version vs. Test version vs. Production version)
  • Many other aspects that IT knows inherently but has not trained the business on

Emotional footprint continues to have a strong correlation to the likeliness to recommend the product and renew the license.

What’s Next?

More vendors have claimed to use artificial intelligence (AI) in their offerings – either produced by the same vendor or by a third party. This trend gives BI the propensity to turn into cognitive support services (CS services). The difference is that traditional BI prompts insights and offers options available for decision making, while CS services can create and process insights and figure out the most appropriate business decision. Organizations are switching from treating BI as just a technology enabling insights to making BI an integral part of decision-making processes.

Stay tuned!

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