The challenging nature of the current business environment is resulting in a defensive posture by businesses that place a premium on organic growth, risk management and customer retention. This sustained focus on analytics will ensure that the BI market will remain more buoyant than other sectors of the IT industry in the short to medium term. SKA research amongst large European retail and communications companies has isolated the following 5 key persistent trends that will shape the BI agenda for 2010.
In the past BI investments have been driven by the needs of regulatory reporting and augmented by episodic bouts of ad hoc business analysis. This is giving way to more structured and co-ordinated analysis and reporting processes that require more structured application frameworks to be implemented. The current trend is to employ industry-specific analytic engines that systematically transforms and exploits the atomic-level business data in the data warehouse to identify trends in purchase and usage behavior, customer retention, revenue assurance and campaign responsiveness.
Data-driven direct marketing communication with customers is assuming greater relevance and is driving demand for a holistic 360-degree view customer engagement strategies. An increased focus on customer segments is causing brands to become fractured and reformed around these segments and is increasingly rebalancing marketing investment from above-the-line brand and advertising activities to below-the-line information infrastructure processes.
The steady progress in recent years on improved data governance and Master Data Management (MDM) has finally placed the issue of corporate ownership of the enterprise data resource centre stage. The inevitable result of this attention has been to re-focus efforts on creating enterprise data warehouse systems to replace the fragmented schemas that proliferated during the past decade and to place data standardization higher on the scale of priorities than tool standardization.
Because of the exponential growth of data volumes in recent years the cost of ETL processing and the administration of the data warehouses infrastructure have become critical issues that are exacerbated by the constant cycles of data integration that arise in the wake of mergers and acquisitions. The use of standardized physical database schemas for data warehouses, the substitution of push-down processing for traditional ETL and the cost of ownership benefits of database appliances over conventional DBMS engines all form part of the immediate response to this ongoing challenge.
The perennial problem of managing the gulf of communication that exists between the business users and IT providers in the enterprise has resulted in significant gaps arising between system specification and system execution. The main locus of this problem can be identified in the lack of user understanding of the data transformations that occur and that result in design and development errors that go undetected. The use of design tools that separate the logical and physical layers of the data architecture and ETL tools that mask the data transformation logic exacerbate this problem. A high priority is now awarded to making business rules and transformation rules more clearly transparent to technical developers and business users.