Data discovery and analytics have a whole new meaning since the dawn of self-service tools. There’s an evident bias because of the obvious revolutionary qualities of visual analytics tools such as Domo, Qlikview, Tableau etc. According to Gartner's 2015 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms, despite certain limitations organizations are choosing these tools.
Industry experts have been advocating the consolidation of BI ecosystems lately. Highlighting the many benefits of BI consolidation research reports have done their best to give birth to another buzzword. Product based companies are innovation driven and constantly work towards making their technology more user-friendly by the day.
Gartner's exclusive findings in its Magic Quadrant report were
• Companies using more conventional, IT-centric platforms that have a broad range of BI capabilities are applying them to narrow use-cases.
• Innovation will be driven by new vendors who will start filling in the gaps in ‘mega-vendors’ product lines.
• BI platform revenue will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.6% during the next five years.
What is consolidation?
Data has been enriching businesses for a long time now. Business intelligence has become an integral part of the growth strategy for organizations. In the past few years, BI has gone from data to analytics, to a more intricate, strategic and multiple stage process. With the rising complexity in BI structures, technical environments of businesses have become heterogeneous. According to a study by Boston-based Forrester Research, close to 80% of companies use three or more business intelligence (BI) products.
The more touch points involved the more complex systems get. In the case of technology and tools in BI, this invites control issues in management and entail recurring monetary liabilities. To overcome the array of multiple tools there came the concept of Consolidation.
In the simplest terms, BI consolidation is designing, enabling and deploying leaner BI infrastructures to condense the manifoldness. Consolidation of the BI environment is also looked up for allowing smoother integration involving a lesser number of tools.
It is real
Backed up by the popular opinions from our experts over at USEReady and validated by the diverse customer forte that we work with, we can definitely say that the needs of customers are inclined towards a centralized solution.
A major chunk of businesses would prefer a single platform strategy but, putting a comparative analysis in perspective, it is just not possible to attain successful BI outcomes with a single tool provider.
We have been hearing a great deal about acquisitions of smaller players by larger giants to offer holistic solutions. We have also been hearing about, leading players expanding their capabilities to be at par with the needs of customers who are evolving with the precision of knowledge, of what they need.
Let’s be a little reasonable here! Looking at the diversity of goals, processes, KPIs across verticals, it is absolutely valid and safe to say that no tool can be a standalone solution to the data, reporting, presentation and governance needs of a business. Widely used tools such as Alteryx, Birst, Paxata, QlikView, Tableau etc have immense opportunities, and they are being used for accomplishing various levels of an organization’s BI endeavors.
It all boils down to the fact that there are no losers in this game. No existing BI tools and technologies that have walked this journey so far, are going to head to a shutdown. It is an opportunity that has created more room for innovation, to declutter BI ecosystems and make them more customer friendly.
Value addition by services providers
Service providers have always backed up products and helped substantially, in the proliferation of the excellence of tools. In all honesty consolidation in BI is just another name for what companies offering 'solutions as services' have already been doing.
From data preparation for analytics, creating and presenting insights, visualizing data to scaling the insights for business success, service providers act as a link between product makers and customers. They also enrich the value of these tools by putting together a combination of domain-focused, most economic tools, and strategies for the end consumers.
The offerings have to come as a package where end to end BI is taken care of, by a single stop shop. That’s what stakeholders want, that’s what the BI community needs and that’s what service providers need to focus on.
A guide for customers to find the right solution
What to look, expect and demand from a service provider?
To address business challenges, it is imperative that organizations have a holistic view of their business structure along with a right roadmap to succeeding with data. In addition to the strategic clarity, there have to be certain traits that businesses must look for in a potential BI consolidator.
Domain Expertise – It’s been said before, every vertical has its own performance parameters, to gauge success with business intelligence. Only a player with rich industrial experience can assure success with the right solutions and measures, to dodge obstacles in the way.
End to end data management – Bad data equals bad insights. Gone are the times when big data was an idol of worship. Times have changed if it’s not good quality, it is no data. An easy parameter for businesses to judge a service provider for comprehensive BI solutions is knowing their stands on analytics-ready data.
Innovation in tool connectors – Service providers need to go beyond, selling capabilities of tools as a solution. They need to start to be innovative, to cater to integrate diverse systems for their customers. They need to enhance capabilities to deliver on unique demands.
Implementation and deployment - Industrial experience in strategizing efficient BI solutions is a must. If you haven't done it, you haven't learned it. Service providers need to be proactive in building roadmaps for BI, offer tailored solutions, work with customer's choice of platform, recommend with expertise, and be able to implement enterprise-wide solutions.
Security and governance – All is for nothing if précised attention is not put to authentication measures. A service provider must enable seamless sharing of analytical content so it can be accessed however & whenever needed. The BI ecosystem must be sustainable and self-reliant and both business and IT driven.