Five 2013 BI innovations

Read time 3min 30sec

In-memory data stores will be the biggest trend to revolutionise the business intelligence (BI) industry this year.

So said Dr Barry Devlin, founder and principal of 9sight Consulting, speaking during the ITWeb Business Intelligence 2013 Summit, in Bryanston, yesterday.

In his keynote address, titled "Five BI innovations up for adoption in 2013", Devlin mentioned in-memory data stores, the bring your own device (BYOD) trend, mobile devices, data visualisation, big data, and the Internet of things as the BI trends that will have the biggest impacts on the industry in 2013.

According to Devlin, there is significant change in computing under way, as most organisations are moving from tape to disk for storage, thus in-memory data stores will be a big hit.

These stores will also receive a boost as access time changes from milliseconds to less than a microsecond, he noted.

Among the technology drivers for in-memory data stores, Devlin pointed to cheaper memory, which is averaging less than $15 per gigabyte.

Thus, Devlin said, if organisations are to increase performance, they must understand the different types of in-memory systems available, such as in-memory database management systems, memory-aware database management systems, as well as storage-aware database management.

"Organisations must also invest in fast, high-power, self-service products such as desktop or server tools aimed at speeding up thought analysis. They must also be aware of data management or governance concerns."

He also encouraged organisations to investigate - at the enterprise or data warehouse level - the application of in-memory database versus platforms like Hadoop, as well as the acceleration of predictive analytics applications.

The second-biggest trend that will impact the BI industry, according to Devlin, is mobile devices. "In the US and Europe, smartphone sales are already exceeding feature phone sales. According to Ericsson, there are 1.3 billion and 300 million tablets with cellular connections globally."

In SA, he added, 61% of phones are smartphones, while 36% are feature phones and 3% are tablet PCs.

"Mobile devices are reaching a tipping point," he said. "The drivers for this are smartphone and tablet apps, which give added functionality to the user."

Improved connectivity is another driver, he said, pointing to technologies like 4G networks, the roll out of which has commenced.

Also giving mobile devices a boost is BYOD, Devlin noted, adding that users want the same experience at work as at home. "Businesses also see cost avoidance by allowing BYOD; however, IT must choose levels of support per device as BYOD continues to be popular.

"As mobile device use grows, organisations must equip managers and executives with tablets and dashboards for initial visibility and acceptance. They must also ensure alignment or consistency with fixed BI and aim for high ROI with smartphone-based sales and operational efficiency."

However, he urged organisations to address security and management issues concerning mobile devices, such as connectivity, data transfer volumes and cost, and security or privacy of transmission and stored data.

According to Devlin, the third-biggest BI trend is data visualisation. "This is a time when data visualisation has got real and this is being driven by big data. Because of big data, there is not enough disk space to make copies, and volumes make ETL [extract, load, transform] too slow, thus data visualisation becomes critical."

He urged organisations to start experimenting with data visualisation by prototyping for new data mart needs.

The fourth trend is big data, which he said is being driven by the continued focus on social media, while the Internet of things is the fifth trend.

Technology drivers for the Internet of things include the increasing number of sensors, universal wireless connectivity, as well as the uptake of IPv6.

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