2014: The Year The Entire Cloud Becomes Your Data Warehouse

Rachel Delacour, CEO of BIME Analytics, names the top five trends in business intelligence to watch next year

MONTPELLIER, FRANCE, and KANSAS CITY, MO,  December 11, 2013 -- Now that Big Data has become a household name, 2014 will be the year companies demand solid proof that data can help their decision-making and their bottom line. As the entire web becomes a seamlessly connected data warehouse, organizations have the power at their fingertips to connect and query dozens of data source in the moment, predicts Rachel Delacour, cofounder and CEO of BIME Analytics. 

Delacour has identified five key trends in business intelligence and cloud computing for 2014:

 1. The entire web becomes the data warehouse.

                          The Cloud Is Your Data Warehouse

Companies large and small are finally able to say good riddance to big capital expenditures in order to gain actionable insights from their data. Until now, an organization had to develop a data warehouse architecture, spend millions to build, maintain and upgrade it, and often fell victim to vendor and technology lock-in. 

Now, cloud computing and cloud BI in particular change the game to mine your business. Taken together, they let organizations of any size seamlessly connect their data sources on the fly. This approach will save substantial amounts of time and money, enabling enterprises to get answers to their business questions in the moment. The advantages of this lightweight yet powerful SaaS model will become apparent in 2014. 

Being in the know will come down to connecting far-flung data repositories and querying them almost instantaneously, without moving the data around. It means getting rid of budget- and time-consuming installations or appliances. Instead, the entire web becomes a seamless and scalable data warehouse that grows with an organization’s needs.

That puts analysis of one's own company performance into context, constantly revealing business cycles directly correlated to economic cycles. This new developed correlation will leverage the play field for SMBs in their competing with major companies in almost any industry because of the availability of open-source data that can, through cloud BI, generate new business opportunities and niches.

2. Cloud BI will put data scientists in their proper place -- where they contribute most value.

             You Can Be A Data Scientist

The business world is still aflutter over how to find, train and retain pricey data scientists. But as 2014 will show, it’s the wrong question to ask. Going after the elusive data scientist in the hopes he can answer all your company’s Big Data questions is like hunting for unicorns. 

The coming year will bring a long-needed reality check. Yes, Big Data is here to stay and can add value to every business. But you don’t need expensive experts to become a data-driven enterprise and find useful answers. The smart companies instead will begin with a small project and let employees run with their questions. Cloud BI that runs in any browser or mobile device will enable managers, salespeople and others to explore the topics that matter to them, querying the data sources they deem relevant. That way, they will discover the power of self-service BI and help it almost automatically scale out and scale up until it transforms the entire organization.

Through its intuitive and interactive model, Cloud BI has thus transformed the niche and somehow enclosed field of data science in an universal language as popular as coding is nowadays. Therefore, with anyone from the company understanding the ins and outs of cloud BI, decision-making and, implicitly, evolution of the company will accelerate.

3. It’s the visualization, stupid!

                                            Data Visualization Is Here

Surveys from respected market researchers like Gartner show that business customers want one thing above all from modern BI: visualizations that answer real questions and tell stories. But the same surveys also show that, so far, they are not getting it. Tangible BI benefits too often lag behind overhyped features. 

I believe 2014 will be a breakthrough moment for data-driven storytelling and decision-making. It means saying adieu to Powerpoint decks and Excel spreadsheets that are clumsy and outdated the moment they are created. The way forward are live dashboards shared among many stakeholders inside and outside an organization that give everyone a customized view, ideally with animations. 

Making data from across the web come alive to tell stories is no longer rocket science or a project at the mercy of an IT department. The power to bring data to life now rests with every user who can drag and drop connections, ask questions in the moment and share insights and trends as they happen.

And amazing visualizations powered by Cloud BI will not only be used for analyzing the internal performance of one’s work, of a department’s flow, etc. but also for the crucial role of new business pitching. It’s exactly as if we would compare the impressions of a HR person when he sees a classical text CV in comparison with a trending visual resume - 360° view change!  

4. Connections count. The smart organization will thrive by Drag and Drop.

                                            BI by Drag & Drop

Data sources proliferate at a dizzying speed. Almost every week, new streams come online that a modern company needs to monitor and analyze, from sensors and consumer actions to supplier feeds. If they don’t tap into this data, they literally leave money on the table.  

That’s why the smartest enterprises will increasingly demand cloud services that are open-ended, agile and flexible enough to accommodate as many new data streams as possible. Not a 10 or 20, but 50 or 60 data streams, no matter whether they are structured or unstructured, on-premise or from a server half a world away. What’s more, these modern services have to be designed in a way that allows users to easily connect and query them to get answers to their pressing business questions at the spur of a moment.

In 2014, cloud BI will offer companies or teams inside an organization an easy, quick and affordable shortcut through the maze of messy sources, bypassing old and proprietary infrastructure. Think of it as an invitation to just “pay as you know,” channeling and profiting from data streams we haven’t even heard of today.

In sync with the burst of social media channels and big data file repositories that may seem as a burden to constantly monitor, analyze and take decisions based on a real time hectic flow, Cloud BI comes to transform these data. Sources become resources!

5. From Embedded To Embedding: Reposition BI

                                  Embedded or Embedding BI?

In 2014, we will not only see the rise of Embedded BI within more and more business application but also an increased focus on the degree of embedding as this will be essential for real-time efficiency and long-term planning. In-context embedding will become crucial to add value for each type of business function (sales, marketing, etc.).

Therefore, with Big Data and Analytics trends growing exponentially in use and popularity, embedded BI could evolve to embedding BI, that is BI hosting and driving multiple applications thus making the switch from data-driven apps to BI-driven apps.

BI becoming the standard is still a prospective exercise in terms of educating the market but it is a fast-forward lesson taught by even faster necessities. Taking all these into account, BI may become in the next 3 years the layer on which future business apps are designed and built; thus, BI could become a platform by itself instead of just an embeddable capability.

BI could, at some point, actually become the master and not the slave.