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State of the BI Market – Spring 2018 Review

written by sales-i Marketing Team

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Stuart Pecksen, sales-i Business Analyst, has recently been looking into the state of the Business Intelligence Market and below is a summary of  the market trends he has uncovered –

3 months in to 2018! Time really is flying, and we are now at the point of year where many people start publishing predictions about the market we operate in so at the end of the year the ones that were right can brag and boast about being the Nostradamus of the interwebs. And the ones that were wrong can have another go next year. So, here is a summary of what is being said!

1. Feed me insights!

The trend that transcends all others is that users need to be fed insights. Their business is so competitive that they don’t believe they have time to interrogate sets of data manually and therefore need the key facts served to them as and when they become key facts to leverage their meaning and impact before the market catches up. The questions that come out of this are ones like: How can I trust the insights? How do I know which ones are a priority? How can I use the insights to make better decisions? Can I get them on my mobile?

2. Take me to the clouds above!

An ongoing theme in the BI market is cloud computing. Vendors are much more aware of the need for at least the option of a cloud platform. Some are moving to pure online hosting and other are offering a hybrid of cloud and on-site solutions. Those dinosaurs still operating solely on site will either become extinct or need to evolve to survive in the new environment (not so new really). The impact of this is that those companies that are already online will have less and less of a USP with each day that passes and will need to look beyond the curve to find a competitive edge.

3. People are getting lazier!

People are lazy. I don’t mean to offend because I am also people. I take every opportunity to do things in the most efficient way – a nicely worded way of saying that if there’s an easy option, I’ll take it…every single time. Sometimes with BI we end up with spreadsheet blindness (it’s a real condition) and would rather see pretty charts and graphs that represent all the numbers on screen. A visual takes a mere second to analyse and comprehend. In comparison to a sheet of digits (something we’d rather get on a Friday night in a bar) it’s definitely the lazy option. But crucially, and seriously, it provides the same outcome.

A sales manager can analyse the trends and make a decision based on what he or she sees without the need to compare figure to figure, over and over again. All new platforms that I encounter offer visuals as a default way of displaying data. It’s almost as if the figures are a means to an end. Visuals do have drawbacks in many scenarios but overall, they serve a purpose and they offer a faster way of understanding data.

4. Self-service BI

“Self-service BI” is sometimes an expression that puts users off. It emits an air of complexity and difficulty that most people do not want to deal with. Supposedly, we will see this change in 2018. It’s a theme that has been ongoing for a while so is nothing new but is a continuing change driven by the need for simplicity and well…. that’s it – simplicity. We need to ensure that intuitive UI is executed in everything we implement. Many parts of a system often go untouched because users find them inaccessible.

People understand the benefits of a system but can’t always take full advantage. Therefore, there is a need to unshackle the potential and empower users by giving an experience that feels effortless and stress-free. If they are put off because something is clunky or cumbersome, they will look elsewhere because it is expected that UI should be easy.

5. I want it in my pocket!

Similarly to offering a cloud service, an increasing number of BI companies are offering a mobile experience. We often assume it’s just sales users that make the most of a mobile app but even decision makers are often out of the office when they may face a decision point. They need quick insight to make a data-driven call on the future of their business. Having the data at their fingertips as opposed to locked inside a desktop behemoth means they stay ahead of the game. According to the Aberdeen Group, companies using mobile BI are 68% percent more likely to get business data on time than companies not using it. So, it’s about quick access to imperative, insight-rich data.

Into the future!

2018 and beyond – Machine Learning is something that many companies are investing in and we will start to see more publicity over the coming years. Ultimately, it is still in an experimental phase for most. Some have used ML algorithms for a few years and some are just starting to toy with it but the ones that get it right will be those that can prove the ROI for their clients. Natural Language processing also remains at the forefront of most trends research and predictions. Gartner reckons that by 2020 half of all BI queries will be “generated via search, natural language processing (NLP), or voice”.

To summarise, business intelligence platforms need to be simple for end users, enabling them to harness their full potential. There is a need to develop everything with the end user in mind, driven by their needs rather than perceived needs.

Companies need to be aware too, of how competitive the mobile BI market is becoming and to be proactive with new approaches, which is where our new upcoming project, sales-I GO shows real value. There is also a need to display data visually on more occasions and gradually, being a cloud provider is shifting to become an expected attribute of a BI platform.

These requirements need to be met in order to stay ahead of the market.

Where do you think BI is headed through 2018 and beyond? Leave me a message and let me know.

Stuart Pecksen
sales-i Business Analyst


References and more reading –


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