Forrester Research recently published a report titled, “The Future of BI,” (available to Forrester subscribers or for purchase) in which the analyst firm laid its take on the most important BI trends for 2012 and beyond. Consumerization and self-service stole the show.

Forrester’s List of Trends for 2012 and Beyond

  • Individualized BI tools trump standards.

  • A “multiple BI tool” strategy is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

  • Ready or not, information workers will demand more BI control.

  • BI tools that support the right amount of managed end user self-service will become popular.

  • Mobility is no longer a “nice to have”—it will become to new BI mantra.

  • Cloud BI will slowly and steadily chip away at on-premises implementations.

  • BI-specific DBMSes will gain popularity.

  • Big data will move out of silos and into enterprise IT.

  • Exploration will become the new bread and butter of IT suites.

  • BI will integrate with the Information Workplace.

 

An important trend I think is missing from this list is more tightly integrated BI and collaboration tools. Forrester does mention that BI will integrate with Information Workplaces—multiple technologies brought together in seamless, contextual user experiences that enable information workers to easily access the information they need. But in the spirit of “getting things done quickly,” to quote from this Forrester report, it will be a two-way street.

Forrester - Future of BI - graphic.jpg

BI services will become more tightly integrated with Information Workplaces and, at the same time, BI platforms will incorporate more and more built-in collaboration services. (See the related blog posts, “What’s the Right Context for Delivery of Social BI?” and “Social BI: How Do People Work, and What Tools Are Available?” and “QlikView Supports Multiple Approaches to Social BI.” Why? Because BI and collaboration are inextricably linked. They are two sides of the same coin. Each is needed for the other to be complete; people collaborate about data, and decisions require collaboration. BI vendors will pursue both avenues as means of enabling business users to more effectively co-create analytic apps, communicate with one another, and explore together.

To understand more about spending on technology for information workers, Forrester Research surveyed more than 2,700 IT executives and technology budget decision-makers in the spring of 2011. The firm published results from the survey in the December, 2011 report, “Forrsights: Analytics, Mobile, and Collaboration Lead 2011 Tech Investment Growth” (available to Forrester subscribers or for purchase).

Highlights from the Forrester study

In a nutshell, Forrester’s findings indicate that IT investments are on the rise to help information workers become even more social and more mobile, and even better equipped to find meaning in data.

  • IT orgs plan to increase spending on, and adoption of, BI software. BI/analytics topped the list for highest projected software spending increase, with an average planned spending increase of 3.9% in 2011 over 2010. Likewise, the #2 initiatives likely to be the IT organization’s top technology priorities during the coming 12 months was increasing the use of BI and decision support tools and services. (Sixty eight percent of survey respondents said it was either a high priority or a critical priority.) These numbers make perfect sense when you consider that the top two business priorities in 2011 were growing overall company revenue (65% of survey respondents) and lowering the firm’s overall operating costs (57%). Many organizations deploy BI to help them achieve exactly these goals.
  • Nearly half of orgs are increasing investments in mobility. According to Forrester, growth in adoption of mobile technologies in the workplace was initially powered by employees who purchased their own smartphones and work-related mobile applications to increase productivity and efficiency. In response to user demand, 48% of firms surveyed said they planned to increase corporate spending on mobile apps and mobile middleware in 2011, 42% of firms said they planned to increase spending on smartphones, and 43% of firms said they would increase spending on tablets and application development.
  • Almost 1/3 of orgs said they planned to increase spending on collaboration tools. Thirty two percent of firms said they planned to increase spending on collaboration applications from 2010 to 2011. According to Forrester, the need for these technologies has increased as the workforce becomes more dispersed, with benefits including improved collaboration and decision making, faster problem solving, and reduced travel expenses. Also, 26% of survey respondents said they planned to implement collaborative project management, case management, or services management apps in 2011—and 24% said they planned to implement a social media platform.

Information workers are mobile and social and need easily-accessible, user-friendly tools for exploring data, discovering insights, and arriving at decision. These warm and fuzzy Forrester numbers are indicative of a big effort on the part of organizations around the world to provide information workers—modern-day hunter-gatherers—with the best possible toolkit for getting the job done.

We need information in every aspect of our lives. We search for information when we want to see a movie, when our kids are sick and we need a doctor, and when we want to compare prices while buying electronics. QlikView, with its user-friendly associative experience, can be used in our daily lives to help us filter information and quickly get to what’s relevant.

This video shows a housewife who needs to buy cheesecake from a grocery store. She’s in a rush. She uses “Quick Finder” to find the location of the cheesecake in the store. You can find the QlikView application and the extension object used in the video in here.


The idea for this was born out of a recent shopping excursion. I was doing my grocery shopping at a store that I was not familiar with. After spending many minutes walking down aisles to find things on my grocery list, I started thinking how nice it would be to have a QlikView application that could show me the location of products. I thought about a QlikView extension object that would show me the floor plan of the grocery store and as I selected products, with the location of the product highlighted in color on the floor plan. Maybe it could be made available to shoppers via a tag barcode.

I got excited about the idea of a “Quick Finder” application so I went home and created one. It took me a few hours to develop the QlikView application. I turned on an Amazon EC2 instance in the cloud and put my app on a QlikView 11 server in the cloud. I created a tag with the URL of the QlikView application by using Microsoft Tag Manager. This way, shoppers could use the free tag reader app on their smart phone and the app would automatically open the QlikView application.*

People’s phones are an essential part of their daily life, connecting them to their entire world of information. Using recognition technologies, we can make virtually anything “Qlikable” to enable people to use a Qlikview application from anywhere to find the information they need. QlikView’s extensible and flexible platform can be used with recognition technologies and provides innovative ways of using QlikView in our daily life.

Our goal at QlikTech is to touch the life of one billion users. I believe QlikView is such a flexible product that with this type of innovative use we would help billions of users, including desperate housewives in grocery stores!

* Tag barcodes and quick response (QR) codes are recognition technologies. Companies use them to connect customers to information, entertainment, and interactive experiences via their smart phones.

We recently published QlikTech highlights from the Business Application Research Center (BARC) study titled The BI Survey 10—The Customer Verdict , published in October 2011. (Download the QlikTech summary here.) BARC gathered the information contained in this study via a survey of BI users, consultants, and vendors. The research highlights several of QlikView’s strengths compared to our peers in the "BI Giants" category.*

 

Cover image - BARC BI QT summary.JPG

BARC's BI Survey 10 provides insight into why and how customers selected BI tools, what they used them for, and how successful they were. The study was based on the analysis of survey results from 2,961 respondents reporting real-world experiencesincluding 182 QlikTech customers and/or partners. 

 

In The BI Survey 10, QlikView earned a top ranking in its peer group in a number of critical areas:

 

  1. Overall agility. QlikView scored highest in its peer group in delivering what BARC refers to as “Agile BI”—a style of BI that promises faster, better results.
  2. Implementation time. The evidence shows that it’s better to go live faster, and that QlikView provides the fastest implementations in its peer group.
  3. Performance satisfaction. Performance satisfaction is crucial in BI projects—and QlikView customers had the fewest complaints of any product users.
  4. Suitability. Customers reported that QlikView was the product in its peer group best suited to the projects it was chosen for.
  5. Overall business achievement. Business achievement combines business benefits and goal achievement to measure real benefits after implementation.
  6. Product quality. Customers reported fewer problems with QlikView than with any other product in its peer group.
  7. Overall quality and support. QlikView had the fewest reported problems, to rank first in product quality. QlikView also scored strongly in both vendor support and implementer support.
  8. Customer loyalty. For the third year in a row, QlikView ranked first in its peer group for customer loyalty.
  9. Intent to buy more licenses. Customers know best, and BARC considers it is a very positive sign when existing customers say they expect to purchase more licenses.

 

These are the opinions that matter most to us: our customers' and partners'. From start to finish, customers are having great success with QlikView. But don’t take my word for it, download your own copy of "The BARC BI Survey 10―QlikView Highlights."

 

* The BI Giants peer group includes companies with $200m+ annual revenues and an international reach: IBM Cognos BI, Information Builders, Microsoft SSRS, MicroStrategy, Oracle BIEE, Oracle Hyperion, QlikTech, SAP BO Web Intelligence, SAP BW BEx Suite, and SAS.

In a study conducted in October, 2011 for the QlikTech team in the UK by YouGov, we found that British white collar workers are held back from realizing their full potential in a data-driven workplace. YouGov conducted an online survey of 1,051 professional, managerial, and other non-manual workers in organizations of 250 or more employees.

Figure 1 - Info Workers Rely on Gut Feel for Decision Making.jpg

Findings and implications from the YouGov study

  • The vast majority of British white collar workers (93%) believe they deal with numbers and data at work more than or at least as often as they did a year ago, but only about a quarter (28%) have used data to discover anything new about their business that nobody else knew.
  • While three quarters of British white-collar employees (75%) look at data at least once a week, more than half (53%) say they use an instinctive feel for how things are going at work, which they think tells them more than data, when it comes to decision-making (see Figure 1 above).
  • Businesses in Britain appear to be missing out on an opportunity to empower their employees with data; about one in every three workers (35%) say they would be willing to do more data analysis if the software tools were easier to use (see Figure 2 below).

 

Figure 2 - Tool Ease of Use Is Holding Back Info Workers from Doing Data Analysis.jpg

While this study was UK-specific, I’d be willing to bet that the findings would be relatively similar in other parts of the world. In general, tools for information work are not easy enough to use ― and thus the huge rush toward consumerization. Information workers gravitate toward work tools that are as easy to use as the technology we have at home. We want tools that help us get our jobs done without having to read a manual or go to someone else for help with each new step.

There’s a wide-open opportunity for software that breaks down the ease-of-use barrier,and that’s what QlikView is all about!

“A lot of kids these days like to play games. But now they want to make them.”  -- Thomas Suarez, 12-year-old app developer

When people talk about the consumerization of technology, they are typically referring to ease of acquisition and ease of use. Consumer technology has become so easy to use that it has become second nature to even the youngest among us. (See the related post, “So Easy a Two-Year-Old Can Do It.”)

Another important element of consumerization is ease of creation. Today, even non-technical people can create and maintain web sites and publish blogs and even books. And, with new technologies like the Apple iPhone software developer kit (SDK), it’s easier than ever for people to write and distribute software applications.

I just watched a video of a presentation by 12-year-old Thomas Suarez at an October, 2011 TEDx event in Manhattan Beach, California. According to the World Records Academy, Suarez has set the record for the world’s youngest iPhone app developer. In this TEDx video, Suarez shared the story of how he came to be an iPhone app developer, and what he’s doing to help other kids follow in his footsteps.

Suarez got his start programming in languages like Python, C, and Java, and when Apple released the iPhone SDK, it opened up a whole new world of possibilities for him. Suarez built a couple of apps called Earth Fortune and Bustin Jieber (a Justin Bieber whack-a-mole game) and got his parents to pony up the $99 fee to submit his apps to the iTunes App Store. Suarez has since started an app club at his school, where other kids can come and learn how to design and build apps.

This story has big implications for self-service BI. When we think about self-service BI, we can’t stop at ease of access and ease of use. We must also focus on ease of creation. Self-service BI has to make it easy for users―even non-technical business users―to create their own analysis. Business users need capabilities for quickly and easily modifying apps created by others and, ultimately, easy-to-use tools for creating their own apps. The end goal is empowering business users to ask and answer their own streams of questions.

In a great example of how we at QlikTech apply the use of QlikView to our jobs every day, I wanted to share this story, which may affect those of you who have sales apps. Our director of inside sales Troy Anderson put in place a targeted set of sales campaigns and our marketing operations team set up those campaigns in Salesforce.com. In “the olden days,” each sales rep on Troy’s team would then have to figure out on their own how to whittle down the list of contacts within each account to determine the best person to call on for a particular outbound or “sales led” campaign.

QlikView yields higher return on energy.jpgFurther complicating matters, some accounts ― and individuals within those accounts ― were good fits for multiple campaigns, which increased the complexity of effort for the sales reps. Additionally, Salesforce.com doesn’t provide a mechanism to help the sales reps visualize and track the progress they are making against a campaign.

So one of the sales executives on the team, Jeremy Boesche, created a QlikView app that pulled company and contact details from Salesforce and enabled the sales reps to update contact or account status in Salesforce without having to navigate the campaign function in the Salesforce system. It took Jeremy 2-3 hours to create the initial app, and then an inside sales consultant on the team, Josh Good, spent about a day refining it (creating additional visualizations, improving the look and feel, etc.). This QlikView app enabled the team to aggregate the contacts in an account and discover who the key person was at an account to call on for a particular campaign.

As Troy Anderson describes, as a result of using this app his sales team got a “higher return on energy.” He said, “The reps no longer have to waste time wondering, ‘Where should I focus? Which customer should I call next?’ Now, they use a QlikView app to make an informed decision on who to call." Troy estimates that each sales rep saves at least an hour a day by using the app and spends roughly half the time against a campaign compared to the usual. “As a result of using QlikView,” Troy said, “This has been one of the most successful outbound marketing campaigns we have ever done.”

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