Other items that are also likely to be high on the enterprise agenda include technologies that enable businesses to do more real-time analysis of large data volumes, social media analytics, and mobile BI.
A lot of these trends are already under way, but they will gain strength throughout 2011, said James Kobielus, an analyst at Forrester Research.
The move toward self-service business intelligence, for instance, has been picking up steam and will gather further momentum in 2011, Kobielus said. Increasingly, enterprises will adopt new Web-based interactive querying and reporting tools that are designed to put more data analytics capabilities into the hands of end users, he said.
The tools will give end users the ability to quickly navigate through and visualize business data, and they will allow them to generate views and reports relevant to their job functions.
Numerous vendors, including IBM, SAP, Information Builders, Tibco Software, QlikTech, and Tableau Software, already offer such tools, and adoption will accelerate as more companies try to deliver BI capabilities to nontechnical users, business analysts, and others, he said.
Self-service BI tools "take the burden off IT and speed up the development of reports to a considerable degree," Kobielus said. They also make it easier for users to create personalized reports that reflect their needs better than the standardized reports developed using traditional BI approaches, he added.
The increasing availability of BI tools provided on a software-as-a-service basis will also drive more self-service BI and enable wider adoption of BI usage in general, Kobielus said.
One example of a company that is taking advantage of SaaS BI is New York-based women's apparel maker Bernard Chaus Inc. The company is using a BI application to track the performance of its products at each of the high-end department store chains that sell them.
Every week, company executives sift through sales data from each department store to see how each of its SKUs are performing and determine which stores might be doing a better job of selling them. The data also is used to study which styles and designs are popular and are selling well.
That sort of analysis is vital said David Stiffman, chief operating and financial officer at Bernard Chaus. "Reading consumer response to certain styles helps influence what we will be designing in future," he said. "By analyzing and learning what sells we are able to make better decisions about what we will offer customers and how to encourage them to buy from our line."
But rather than host a BI application itself, Bernard Chaus has signed up with IBM business partner Sky IT Group, a firm that offers SaaS BI services. Sky IT brings in data from all of the different department stores that sell Bernard Chaus apparel and then cleanses the data and makes it available to Bernard Chaus for analysis.