Digitally empowered customers -- both businesses and consumers -- wield a huge influence on enterprise strategies, policies, and customer-facing and internal processes. With mobile devices, the Internet, and all-but-unlimited access to information about products, services, prices, and deals, customers are now well informed about companies and their products, and are able to quickly find alternatives and use peer pressure to drive change. But not all organizations have readily embraced this new paradigm shift, desperately clinging to rigid policies and inflexible business processes. A common thread running through the profile of most of the companies that are not succeeding in this new day and age is an inability to manage change successfully. Business agility -- reacting to fast-changing business needs -- is what enables businesses to thrive amid ever-accelerating market changes and dynamics.
There just might be another 800-lb gorilla in the Business Intelligence market. In a year.
The popular cult book "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" by Douglas Adams defines space as ". . . big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. . ." There are no better words to describe the size and the opportunity of the business intelligence market. Not only is it "mind-bogglingly big," but over the last few decades we've only scratched the surface. Recent Forrester research shows that only 12% of global enterprise business and technology decision-makers are sure of their ability to transform and use information for better insights and decision making, and over half still have BI and analytics content sitting in siloed desktop-based shadow IT applications that are mostly based on spreadsheets.
The opportunity has provided fertile feeding ground to more than fifty vendors, including: full-stack software vendors like IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP, each with $1 billion-plus BI portfolios; SAS Institute, a multibillion BI and analytics specialist; popular BI vendors Actuate, Information Builders, MicroStrategy, Qlik, Tableau Software, and Tibco Software, each with hundreds of millions in BI revenues; as well as dozens of vendors ranging from early to late stage startups.
The battle over customer versus internal business processes requirements and priorities has been fought -- and the internal processes lost. Game over. Customers are now empowered with mobile devices and ubiquitous cloud-based all-but-unlimited access to information about products, services, and prices. Customer stickiness is extremely difficult to achieve as customers demand instant gratification of their ever changing needs, tastes, and requirements, while switching vendors is just a matter of clicking a few keys on a mobile phone. Forrester calls this phenomenon the age of the customer. The age of the customer elevates business and technology priorities to achieve:
BI is no longer a nice-to-have back-office application that counts widgets -- it is now used as a key competitive differentiator by all leading organizations. For decades, most of the BI business cases were based on intangible benefits, but these days are over -- today 41% of professionals, with knowledge of their firm's business case, base their business case on tangible benefits, like an increased margin or profitability. As a result, BI is front and center of most enterprise agendas, with North American data and analytics technology decision-makers who know their firm's technology budget telling Forrester in 2014 that 15% of their technology management budget will go toward BI-related purchases, initiatives, and projects.
But taking advantage of this trend by deploying a single centralized BI platform is easier said than done at most organizations. Legacy platforms, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), BI embedded into enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, and organizational silos are just a few reasons why no large organization out there has a single enterprise BI platform. Anecdotal evidence shows that most enterprises have three or more enterprise BI platforms and many more shadow IT BI platforms.
BI and analytics software packaging and pricing are a Wild West with few common practices among the vendors. Comparing and contrasting vendor prices and negotiating with vendors is challenging because
So how do you know if you are getting a good deal? Here's a best practice and a few price ranges you can use to get you started. First of all, at the end of the day, it's the number of users and user types that are always a common denominator regardless of BI software platform or your particular implementation. Consider the following price ranges for specific user types
Management consultants and business intelligence, analytics and big data system integrations often use the terms accelerators, blueprints, solutions, frameworks, and products to show off their industry and business domain (sales, marketing, finance, HR, etc) expertise, experience and specialization. Unfortunately, they often use these terms synonymously, while in pragmatic reality meanings vary quite widely. Here's our pragmatic take on the tangible reality behind the terms (in the increasing order of comprehensiveness):
"A little prediction goes a long way" wrote Eric Siegel in his popular Predictive Analytics book. True, predictive analytics is now part and parcel of most Business Intelligence (BI), analytics and Big Data platforms and applications. Forrester Research anecdotal evidence finds that open source R is by far the most ubiquitous predictive analytics platform. Independent findings and surveys like the ones by KDNuggets and RexerAnalytics confirm our conclusions (and I quote) "The proportion of data miners using R is rapidly growing, and since 2010, R has been the most-used data mining tool. While R is frequently used along with other tools, an increasing number of data miners also select R as their primary tool."
To jump on this R feeding frenzy most leading BI vendors claim that they "integrate with R", but what does that claim really mean? Our take on this - not all BI/R integration is created equal. When evaluating BI platforms for R integration, Forrester recommends considering the following integration capabilities:
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