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3 business intelligence trends to watch for in 2020

The Business Intelligence (BI) market will reach $40 billion by 2025, according to Research and Markets. The world economy is suffering as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, but some speculate software-as-a-service (SaaS) will be among those industries to turn the downturn into an opportunity. As modern BI solutions emerge as key players in the market, they may eclipse older enterprise solutions.

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Last year marked a turning point in BI vendor acquisitions, with Google purchasing Looker for $2.6 billion and Salesforce acquiring Tableau for a staggering $15.3 billion. Research and Markets predicts that the BI market will reach over $40 billion by 2025 at a CAGR of 12%.

One of the forces driving this explosive growth is data democratization, particularly within enterprises. Subject matter experts with little-to-no database experience are becoming increasingly reliant on data and reporting. Where IT once met the bulk of this demand, sophisticated BI solutions are now bridging the knowledge gap and giving the less technical more direct control over their data.

Whether prospecting companies as an investor or BI adopter, it’s important to stay abreast of prevailing market trends. Here are three to watch for in 2020.

Embedded BI

Though excitement around embedded BI has begun to wane, its utility has not. In its 2019 Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study, Dresner Advisory Services identified embedded business intelligence as one of the market’s “notable year-over-year decliners,” citing “considerable industry attention and possible ‘hype’ in preceding years” as a potential cause of its reduced priority. Still, as analytics consultant Jen Underwood asserts in a 2018 report, “By embedding analytics invisibly into applications people already know, use, and love, change is minimized and value is maximized,” leading to increased user adoption.

The world economy is suffering as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, but some speculate software-as-a-service (SaaS) will be among those industries to turn the downturn into an opportunity. If these predictions play out, the embedded BI market will likely see a complementary boost, as embedded analytics not only meets the growing demand for more accessible data tools but also increases the host SaaS application’s “stickiness.”

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Self-Service BI

Workers’ ability to furnish their own reporting and analysis needs remains a high priority for companies across virtually all sectors. According to the Business Application Research Center’s ongoing BI survey, this type of accessibility has been in high demand for years. As BI tools themselves do more to close the knowledge gap between analysts and non-technical users, adoption rates will increase and overall time-to-insight will fall.

A critical component of self-service BI is users’ ability to build ad hoc reports, visualizations, and dashboards — not simply run, modify, and/or view preexisting canned reports. Gartner makes this distinction clear: “Self-service business intelligence is defined here as end users designing and deploying their own reports and analyses within an approved and supported architecture and tools portfolio” (emphasis mine).

Operational Reporting

As data visualization capabilities grow increasingly ubiquitous, industry experts are seeing BI solutions differentiate according to their operational reporting capabilities. Dresner says “reporting retains all-time high scores as the top priority” for companies deploying BI. Especially valuable are pixel-perfect tabular (grid-style) reports that can be run once and distributed to recipients based on their business roles and credentials. This “bursting” capability maximizes BI efficiency, making it possible for a single report to inform interns, managers, and executives alike.

Companies are also seeing value in the ability to interact with reports much the same way users interact with data visualizations: adjusting filters, applying sorts, creating custom styling, and triggering drill-downs. This kind of control allows users to tailor existing reports to their needs without rebuilding them from scratch.

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As modern BI solutions emerge as key players in the market, they may begin to eclipse older enterprise solutions. How those older vendors will respond remains to be seen. Trends suggest the market will favor more efficient, user-friendly tools that offer businesses more distributed access to company data.

(Featured image by PhotoMIX-Company from Pixabay)

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Mike Brody is the co-founder and CEO of Exago Inc., a web-based solution for software companies looking to provide ad hoc reporting, dashboards, and analytics to their internal and external customers. Since the company’s inception in 2006, Mike has led Exago to its position as a self-funded and profitable player in the business intelligence software market.