3 Emerging Trends to Watch in 2014

TDWI research director David Stodder looks at a trio of emerging technology trends he believes will have a significant impact on technology implementation.

Orlando is where I will be for the next TDWI World Conference, to be held December 8-13. The theme is "emerging technologies 2014," which will put a spotlight on where we have been and where we are going with business intelligence, big data, analytics, data warehousing, and enterprise data management.

In particular, I am looking forward to the "The Shiny Objects Show" -- Monday's keynote by Marc Demarest and Mark Madsen, who will take on roles of CIO and "industry shill" to debate the upsides and downsides of key trends in the industry. Their previous debates on big data were not to be missed; this new presentation will help clear away the haze of hype that always surrounds emerging technologies, enabling attendees to evaluate them from a balanced perspective. [Editor's note: Read more about this presentation here.]

As we close out 2013 and head into the New Year, what are some of the most important emerging technology trends and practices? I'm sure you have your list; I'd be very interested in hearing what you see as the most compelling trends. Let me offer a brief take on three that I see as having a significant impact on technology implementation.

Trend #1: Self-service BI and visual discovery aim for process improvement

In recent years, one of the biggest and best trends in BI has been the adoption of "discovery" tools that enable users to get beyond reports to investigate why numbers are different from expectations and help them unearth insights that standard reports hide. Combined with greater self-service functionality, the discovery tools are making it easier to access data and develop dashboards and other visual objects. In Orlando, Cindi Howson will be heading up sessions focused on how organizations can update their BI tool portfolio to take advantage of the latest self-service BI and visual data discovery technologies. The next step will be to integrate self-service BI and discovery analysis more tightly with process improvement so that users can apply insights directly to their tasks or automated procedures for which they are held accountable. In 2013, several top BI and data discovery tool vendors indicated that process integration would be their most significant strategic direction in the coming year. We should see product releases with workflow and "storytelling" features aimed at process integration in 2014.

Trend #2: Competitive advantages of speed will drive real-time analytics deployment

Pheidippides is celebrated in history for running 22 miles from Marathon to Athens in 490 B.C. to deliver news of victory in the fastest way then humanly possible. Today, rather than depend on runners, horse relays, and signal fires, firms in nearly all industries seek to deploy networks, data management, and analytics to speed the flow of information and insight to decision makers. Organizations that can reduce the latency between data capture and its transmission and digestion have a leg up on the competition. Information speed is also a catalyst for product and service innovation.

The past year saw organizations deploying BI, analytics, complex event processing, decision management, in-memory computing, and other technologies to achieve operational intelligence and real-time insight. The focus has been on delivery of information for daily, real-time decisions by humans and automated systems; deeper real-time analytics are next. In 2014, we will see advances in use of the above technologies plus big data solutions such as Apache Spark for running real-time, interactive queries against Hadoop systems. Speakers and exhibitors in Orlando will be discussing the trend toward real-time analytics and faster information delivery.

Trend #3: Data warehousing and integration options will continue to grow more varied

Little can be done with BI and analytics without data integration, especially as users reach out to diverse data sources. Organizations need technologies and practices that can make it easier to access and integrate data and to deploy data warehouses. Data federation and virtualization, which can give organizations the ability to view data in place rather than physically extracting it into a data store, has also proven useful for setting up common data access layers.

In the new year, we will see more organizations expanding their data architectures to include federation and virtualization as well as Hadoop options for making data access easier and faster. At the Orlando World Conference, Jonathan Geiger, Krish Krishnan, and other TDWI instructors will be delving into new data warehousing and integration options.

Technology to the Rescue

It's an exciting time for users who have heretofore been frustrated by BI and OLAP tools that are hard to use; by slow, tardy information delivery; and by limited options for data integration. Be sure to keep abreast of TDWI World Conference developments online at and on Twitter for tweets shared using the #TDWI hash tag.

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