The past few years have not been kind to IT budgets. General belt-tightening in the wake of the economic recession, combined with rounds of massive layoffs, have reduced many organizations’ IT departments. CIOs and other high-ranking executives have postponed infrastructure refreshes, leaving workers with increasingly antiquated technology.
However, that squeeze has failed to kill the growth of business intelligence. “IT continues to spend and earmark money to B.I, despite constrained budgetary environments,” Dan Sommer, principal analyst at Gartner, wrote in an April 2 note. “Gartner’s CIO survey showed that analytics and B.I. is the No. 1 technology priority for CIOs in 2012.”
Despite pinching pennies in other areas, a number of CIOs apparently remain determined to shield B.I. projects from the accountants’ knives. Indeed, Sommer continued, “new buying centers are opening and expanding out of IT, in line-of-business initiatives, and taking an increasingly large stake of the spending pie.”
Organizations are most interested in analytic applications and performance management, according to Gartner data, followed by B.I. platform and CPM suites.
“In 2011, the market is still dominated by traditional on-premises solutions linked to PCs,” Sommer wrote. However, he added, evolving technologies such as cloud computing, mobile devices, and Big Data applications will expand the analytics market in new directions: “In ten years time, everyone will be touched by analytics in a much denser and more frequent way than today.”
But movement to B.I. platforms, especially those in the cloud, might be hindered by certain factors. “The move to the cloud is happening; it’s just happening much more slowly than in any other enterprise software segment,” Forrester analyst Boris Evelson wrote in a corporate blog posting earlier this year. “Most of the enterprise data (from CRM, ERP and all other apps) has to get to the cloud first! Then B.I. will surely follow.”
At the moment, Evelson believes the cloud-B.I. market subdivides into three categories: “hundreds” of “domain- or industry-specific cloud-based B.I. applications” that nonetheless differ from full-fledged B.I. platforms; companies like SAP offering cloud versions of their on-premises platforms; and startups with their own cloud-based creations, many of which will inevitably perish and fade away as a side-effect of brutal competition in the space.
But cloud or not, analysts seem to uniformly believe the B.I. market is primed for nothing but expansion over the next few years.