Software vendors have long focused on automating the Data In part of business processes. In other words, most widely used applications, including Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), accounting systems, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), or payroll have automated operational processes—such as finance, sales, or human resources. These automated solutions have served to streamline business processes and allowed users to capture relevant transactions much more efficiently and effectively than they could with their previous manual processes. While these applications have done a good job of automating “Data-In” business processes, they have been less effective at giving organizations visibility into the data that they created using these applications. This is because these solutions have automated business processes individually with each application storing their data in separate databases or data silos. Business questions are often best answered by accessing data from multiple areas or departments in a company. Yet, businesses have had a difficult time consolidating information from multiple silos for use in analysis.
As the decade unfolds, the burgeoning demand for meaningful information will put increasing pressure on vendors to provide functionality for increasing data visibility—in other words, getting “Data out” of their business applications so as to allow SMBs to use this information to improve decision making and ultimately drive organizational performance. For some enlightening and contextual perspective in where computing is going in the next decade read Stephen Smiths interesting Blog post titled “Welcome to the Post-PC world”. Very recently, BI vendors went through an industry “consolidation”—where the larger vendors of general business applications that had previously focused on the Data-In phase fought each other to buy out the smaller vendors specializing in BI solutions. This consolidation was arguably the precursor to these vendors’ focusing on the Data-Out phase of BI, simplifying these BI solutions and making them available to the SMB market. This is clearly good news for SMBs that wish to implement BI solutions. In the next decade, look for vendors to realize that their previous focus on Data In has been misbalanced and to put more emphasis on providing ways for customers to get Data Out in order to provide more value to customers. There’s never been a better time to be a consumer because everybody wants to get to know us personally so they can customize their product to more perfectly match our personal needs, Business Intelligence is so stranger to this growing reality.