The following guest post is by Prakash Nanduri, Co-Founder and CEO of Paxata.
The dust is finally beginning to clear from the big data explosion, which is a good thing. One of the problems with big data is that it’s been led by technology, not business requirements. And business requirements will be the focus in the 2014 business intelligence (BI) ecosphere—to enable enterprises to achieve results with data mining and analytics and to prove those results. All the BI vendors will sit in the hot seat, forced to explain what they actually do to solve customer problems, which is healthy.
Companies that have declared, “We need a big data strategy!” and “Let’s throw money at it; it seems like a wise investment” are beginning to wonder (rightly), “Why are we collecting this data in the first place?” They are recognizing that they have put technology before the business case, and are now focusing on the business case.
They were not fools—no company wants to be left behind while its competitors thrive on the “bleeding edge,” and ignoring the big data promise looked like it could be fatal. But best practices around big data continue to evolve, one being simply to connect it to a company strategy.
Likely too, you’ll begin to hear the phrase “big data” less in 2014. It will become table stakes. Every company that once had a wading pool of data now has an ocean of it—so what? That is no measure of excellence. Business performance is a measure of excellence.
And we need to admit that big data—up to this point—has been best suited for needle-in-the-haystack analytics, as opposed to something that everyone benefits from. In 2014, everyone will want to see how they can achieve real value from all the data being collected.
2. Tableau and QlikView licenses will outpace Excel licenses.
Microsoft Excel has reached a kind of end state. Everybody who wants it has it, and those who don’t want it have access to it. To be fair, it’s a marvelous tool for basic data crunching and roll-your-own analytics; all the tools integrate with it. But it’s too light a tool for today’s varied and voluminous data sets that mash structured data with unstructured data. So in 2014, expect the number of new users of Tableau and QlikView to dramatically outpace new Excel users and licenses.
Tableau and QlikView have penetrated perhaps 5 percent of the Excel market already, but the size of that Excel base is misleading. Its licenses are part and parcel of the Microsoft Office suite, and far exceed its user base. So, all things considered, Tableau and QlikView have gained more ground than 5 percent.
Besides that, no vendor declares itself “The Next Excel,” whereas 50 or 60 solutions are billed as the alternative to QlikView and Tableau. As good as some of those solutions are, they haven’t got the business maturity of the companies or the products they’re going after. That leads us to the next prediction.
3. By the end of 2014, half of all BI vendors will begin seeking an exit.
It would be unrealistic to say that there will be one-half the BI vendors a year from now as exist today. But 2014 will be the start of a landslide as the BI ecosphere contracts and vendors begin to accept that they cannot triumph with incremental improvements. First to go will be the QlikView and Tableau wannabes, with some consolidation as successful BI companies cherry pick some good ideas and technology. We saw this consolidation once before with Brio, BusinessObjects, Cognos, and the like. The only difference is that these are cloud-based tools (which allows users to change their apps as easily as they change their underwear). Loyalty and stickiness are things of the past—and churn will drive a lot of exits.
The explosion in “things” will generate a corresponding wave of rich new sources with varying data formats for edge analytics. IT is still struggling to keep up with the massive information coming from the mobile worker. With the advent of IoT, that mass of information will be multiplied with every asset across an organization, from the pressure sensor on the wellhead to the video monitor at the gas station pump. Business decisions will be accelerated in organizations that have a strategy for rapidly organizing and normalizing data across their ecosystem.
5. We can finally realize the full potential of data scientists./>/>
Currently, companies spend more than $200,000 on a data scientist who ends up mostly doing data plumbing, which results in the underutilization of data scientists. In the coming year, we’ll see the amount of time spent on data preparation drop significantly from 80 percent to 40 percent, with more compression to come. Companies are finally realizing and addressing the data preparation problem head on for the first time, a progress that is certainly long overdue. With the time to prepare data cut in half, we’ll begin to see the return on investment in data scientists that we’ve been desiring as they can focus on what they were hired for. And, we’ll begin toenter the age of “agile information management.”
Perhaps the consistent theme underlying all of these predictions is maturity—that phase that every line of software hits when companies demand to know the value of the solution and become more interested in best practices than sexy features. BI isn’t new, of course, but it’s advanced considerably in the last five years, and 2014 will be a tipping point when the enterprise makes sense of those advances and puts them to their best use.