For me, the data visualization aspect is the most fascinating. With the right visual tools, everyone from medical researchers to fraud investigators can wade into terabytes of the stuff to find useful patterns. And several visionaries see in the hyperabundance of Internet data as an opportunity to create a new, graphical communications medium (check out the work of David McCandless).
More down to earth is the so-called operational business intelligence trend. Here, the idea is to process sets of (mostly) transactional data for specific lines of business, so line-of-business managers can stay on top of their division's performance and make quick adjustments as needed.
Operational business intelligence -- often the conventional variety, too -- require a high level of data quality and freshness, with data integrated and reconciled from multiple sources. New techniques that use semantic mapping for data mediation are helping to ensure that data from multiple systems integrates correctly to yield meaningful results.
One reason companies find themselves disappointed in business intelligence is that they end up with pretty reports that simply provide a clear view of the past. Predictive analytics, after years of promise, is finally delivering models that can foretell customer behavior -- often using semistructured data from Web logs as a source.
And finally, those who want to avoid the investment in hardware and software to deploy business intelligence are turning to SaaS (software-as-service) providers. SaaS vendors such as Actuate, Good Data, and Jaspersoft are breaking new ground with high-end business intelligence features wrapped in intuitive Web UIs.
It's hard to imagine a more exciting time for business intelligence. With effective new tools, the data glut that everyone laments becomes a new source of business value. As with our other iGudes, we'll be adding new material to the portal over time.
This article, "Finding new value in data overload," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog, and for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.