BI focus shift expected in 2012

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Next year will see business intelligence (BI) focusing heavily on mobile, social networking and the cloud in SA, says Mark Bannerman, MicroStrategy SA's country manager.

Bannerman says the biggest local BI trend next year will be mobile. “In Europe, it is fairly commonplace for enterprises to have a mobile BI strategy,” he says. “But because SA has been slightly later in mobile BI adoption, we expect to experience a high level of interest and investment from companies during 2012.”

Bannerman notes that mobile BI does not just mean accessing information via mobile devices; it extends to adding information via mobile, as well as to the execution of enlightened decisions in real-time, based on immediate and current analysis for instant decision-making.

“With mobile BI, there is no more 'I will get back to you later' from a person involved in a decision. Now, information is instantly available, allowing companies to react immediately to queries or problems, make informed decisions, and add value to their customers.

“In SA, we are starting to see strong growth in interest and investment in mobile solutions,” Bannerman says. “This year, a significant proportion of our customers are now including mobile as part of their requirements. So 2012 will definitely be a 'mobile year' in BI.”

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Following hot on SA's heels in the mobile BI space will be other SADC countries, Bannerman says. “They are definitely following this trend, too. In these economically challenging times, mobile BI will give them a much-needed competitive advantage.”

Second to mobile, big data will be another key BI focus next year. Big data - the massive volumes of data that needs to be managed, accessed and leveraged - is being driven by the likes of social networking, mobile and the adoption of cloud computing, says Bannerman.

He adds: “In SA, there's growing interest in incorporating social networking into BI systems. By late 2012, you will suddenly see an explosion of solutions driven by social criteria.”

Tools to access and analyse data from social networks are already in place and available, and local companies are starting to pay attention to them. Companies can use the valuable information gleaned from social networks to customise their marketing campaigns and to personalise their interactions with clients. This allows for a better customer experience, as well as measurable improvements in campaign ROIs.

Bannerman says: “In Europe, where the market is more mature, by incorporating social media into their BI, companies are seeing a measurable increase in revenue from campaigns.”

Another big data driver is cloud computing, which is seeing growth in SA as the bandwidth situation improves.

According to Bannerman: “This a key trend in Europe - as a mechanism for companies to sweat their assets and reduce the costs of deployment and ongoing support. Cloud computing helps to drive costs down, while driving the availability of solutions to higher levels. It also allows enterprises to achieve greater flexibility without the associated large increases in cost. Depending on the relationship with the service provider, companies can currently rent additional capacity as required for as little as a few hours.”

Bannerman expects massive adoption of cloud computing in SA and the rest of Africa, as new undersea cables deliver more capacity and bring prices down.

“Cloud, in Africa, will also give access to a far wider audience. You won't need a local support environment - you'll get first world technology without requiring local overheads,” he says.

“While there are exponential increases in the volumes of data recorded digitally, the management and appropriate analysis of big data is achievable - with the right technologies and the right partners in place,” Bannerman says. He foresees that the capability to analyse and report off big data will become a major focus in SA over the next 18 months.

Looking ahead, the charmed partnership between mobile, social and BI is going to remain critical in driving competitive advantage in successful businesses around the globe, Bannerman concludes.

MicroStrategy is a sponsor of ITWeb's annual BI Summit, which takes place on 28 and 29 February 2012. For more information about this event, and to book your place, click here.

Tracy Burrows
ITWeb contributor.

Tracy Burrows is ITWeb contributor.

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