Business intelligence (BI) has come a long way over the last several decades, transforming from a back office process to a technology utilised by every enterprise department, says Johan Jurd, MD of InfoBuild, a representative of InformationBuilders in South Africa. 
These sophisticated uses – such as relying upon BI tools to predict inventory before the holiday shopping season, or using the technology to analyse consumer sentiment before a significant product launch – are really the future of the industry.
Jurd is excited to be playing a part in the deployment. With that in mind, here’s a look at the top six trends for 2013:
Giving BI a voice
The technology available today is actually ahead of current industry demand in some ways. For example, the plethora of new smartphones, tablets and PCs available in today’s market have the ability to take and receive voice instruction, as illustrated by the Apple Siri program, and BI could easily be incorporated into that conversation.
For example, let’s say users ask, “Who was the sales person who sold the most blue widgets last month?” They could receive a voice response, “John Doe in Cincinatti.”
And better yet, they could also receive a short message that includes John Doe’s picture and biography. The only difference between this query and all of the other Siri queries is that BI gets its information from business records.
Translating the voice query to an SQL request is the only task remaining, and lots of work has been done in this area already. Jurd predicts that sometime in 2013 users will see voice added to the BI stack of options.
Predictive analytics

Maybe it’s due to the popularity of “Moneyball”, but predictive analytics is hot and will only get hotter in the coming year. There are a variety of enterprise functions benefitting from the technology, including sales and marketing. The popularity of social media, the proliferation of mobile, and other industry trends are giving rise to new marketing channels for companies to communicate with current and potential customers.
These multi-channel marketing strategies are resulting in a wealth of data-both structured and unstructured-that, when properly analysed, can be used to better target existing customers, reach new markets and streamline efforts.
In 2013, Jurd expects users will see more companies mining their multi-channel marketing data to remain competitive and better predict who their customers are, the products or services that they want, their online and offline actions, and what they need to continue being a customer.
Sentiment analysis

In today’s socially networked world, it is becoming increasingly common for consumers to learn about a product or service – and begin to form an opinion about it – via a social site or blog. In fact, a recent study in the Harvard Business Review found that more than 60% of a typical purchasing decision now happens before the buyer ever interacts with the supplier.
As such, it is incredibly important that organisations be able to discover what people are saying about their product, service, marketing initiative and any other area that reflects upon their brand, so that they’re better able to respond to these conversations in realtime.
Many BI providers have incorporated sentiment analysis capabilities into their solution sets, making it relatively easy for organisations to mine for this information as part of their existing analysis activities, which is why Jurd believes users will see continued adoption in the year ahead.
Big data

Predicting that big data will be a focus for 2013 may seem a bit obvious, as this has been a key area of growth for the industry for several years.
However, because so many other emerging trends are reliant upon the science of big data, Jurd thinks users will see significant enhancements to this area in the coming year. Those enhancements will come in the form of improved big data management tools, with one such tool being data stores.
Although many BI vendors currently offer their own embedded data stores, and these solutions have offered some short-term relief, many are either limited in scalability or require huge proprietary hardware appliances to support big data. As consumers move into a world where big data management is increasingly important, they will see that begin to change.
Mobile BI

There are two aspects of the mobile BI revolution: empowering employees to conduct realtime analysis regardless of their physical location, and mining smartphone and tablet data to develop a more holistic understanding of the customer, the market, the workforce and so on.
As these both become more prevalent, there will also be an increased demand for data quality and data integration tools to ensure that information is properly cleansed and combined for mobile analysis.

In the same vein as mobile BI, Jurd expects that users will see the continued consumerisation of BI in the sense that more organisations will use BI tools to provide employees, customers and partners with applications that enable self-guided exploration of the information that matters to them most.
Following this trend, users can expect to see something akin to a “BI app store” to control and curate apps by role, which will allow content to be distributed accordingly. All of these trends will eventually revolutionise how information is distributed throughout the enterprise.

Embedded BI

To harness the above trends and other benefits of BI without investing in significant new infrastructure, more and more organisations are embedding BI capabilities into their existing SaaS solutions. The industry as a whole will see more of this trend as users head into 2013.
Buying BI capabilities rather than building the technology in-house gives companies a lower total cost of ownership and quicker time to value; benefits that will continue to be in high demand throughout next year.
Jurd has really just scratched the surface of these trends, and no doubt left out a few areas that will have a significant impact on the BI landscape in 2013.