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3 Emerging Innovations for BI and Analytics

As 2013 gets closer, here are three exciting and impactful technology innovations we are likely to see and that will likely capture your attention.

When I think of "emerging technologies," which is the theme of TDWI's upcoming World Conference in Orlando, Florida (November 11-16), I can't help but think of the amazing spy warfare gadgets in James Bond movies or the TV show "Get Smart."

In Bond movies, one of my favorite moments was always when James headed to the British Secret Service research and development lab to meet with Q, who would introduce him to the lab's latest inventions. Ingenious and usually deadly, the pen guns, laser-emitting wristwatches, cuff link hand grenades, and other clever devices and vehicular features came in handy when Bond was in a particularly tight spot.

Get Smart's spoofs on spy devices were perhaps even more inventive, if not more ridiculous. Forget the iPhone: I want a shoe phone!

Vendors in the business intelligence, analytics, and data warehousing market are not known for introducing these types of tools, which is probably for the best, but 2012 has nonetheless brought forth worthy innovations. Big data has been a key focus, with vendors introducing more powerful analytic databases as well as products and services to help organizations take advantage of Hadoop and related technologies and integrate them with existing BI and data warehousing systems.

Several vendors have made strides in offering cloud and "as-a-service" functionality to make it easier for organizations to move forward with plans to initiate subscription-based BI, analytic sandboxes, and data warehousing systems.

Marc Demarest and Cindi Howson, the two scheduled keynote speakers at the Orlando World Conference, will address the "Emerging Technologies 2013" theme in their presentations.

Demarest, CEO and principal of Noumenal, has delivered visionary keynotes at previous TDWI Executive and Solution Summits. He does not pull punches; in his keynote talk description, he predicts "a period of wanton innovation, instability, and discontinuous change in BI/DW technologies."

Driving this change are increasingly urgent demands for systems that can derive business value from big, diverse data streams (including machine data) and apply technologies such as predictive analytics and automated decision management. Demarest's talk will help organizations gain clarity about how to get from their current systems to where they need be in the future.

Cindi Howson, founder of BIScorecard and a TDWI faculty member, will discuss the range of innovations percolating in BI, including systems for mobile devices, the use of in-memory computing, tighter integration with desktop applications, and dashboard data visualization. She will describe how to align "cool BI" innovations with an organization's priorities and maturity. Her talk will help organizations narrow their focus on innovations that can deliver value rather than on buying technology just for technology's sake.

Three Emerging Technologies

As 2013 gets closer, what are some of the more exciting and impactful technology innovations that we are likely to see? Here are three that are likely to capture your attention.

Innovation #1: In-memory computing changes the terrain for BI and analytics

To get around the disk I/O performance bottleneck, BI and analytics systems are enabling greater use of expanded main memory. This a cost-effective performance improvement because memory continues to get cheaper; it also can reduce the complexity and potential for errors in pre-processing steps normally necessary to bring thousands of record forward from disk and run analytic processes iteratively against the data.

In-memory computing may not the best option when data volumes are too large (which is why compression technology is critical for in-memory systems) or data must be updated frequently. However, in 2013, in-memory computing will continue to shift the balance for BI and analytics systems.

Innovation #2: Data visualization becomes essential as analytics hit the mainstream

As big data volumes grow and organizations of all sizes and experience seek to integrate diverse and complex information, the user's ability to quickly comprehend data's significance hinges on data visualization. Data visualization and visual data analysis enable nontechnical users to see data patterns and trends they would have struggled to grasp with tabular reports, spreadsheets, and primitive graphics.

We can expect to see more innovation in 2013 to support exciting and sophisticated graphics for BI and analytics, which will include more animation and intuitive, "gesture-based" data interaction.

Innovation #3: Data integration will improve with better knowledge about sources

According to TDWI's San Diego World Conference technology survey, data distribution, or the challenge of integrating multiple data sources for single views, is organizations' most intense big data headache. This is not surprising; data integration has always been tough, and now with potentially hundreds of terabytes and unstructured or semi-structured data types in the mix, integration will get even harder.

Organizations will need to implement technologies that improve knowledge of their data, including how elements are related within and across sources. They will also need technologies that can discover metadata in heterogeneous data sources and make it easier to build master data and metadata resources that can be applied to access and analysis.

Right Data at the Right Time

These are just three areas that are going to be critical in the coming months, and which will be addressed by the TDWI faculty at the Orlando World Conference. With demand continuing to rise for more information and new ways of accessing, analyzing, and sharing it, nobody gets to rest on their laurels in this industry.

With sharper data insights, decision makers won't "miss it by that much," to borrow Maxwell Smart's famous line. They will have clear and comprehensive views of subjects of interest supported by the right data at the right time.

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