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Business Intelligence in 2002

2001 has been a year of economic upheaval and uncertainty in all sectors of IT, and CRM was no different. SearchCRM asked its resident experts to weigh in on the changes that have taken place in their area of expertise over the past year, and to make their predictions on what will be hot in CRM and business intelligence in 2002.

When 2001 began, I predicted BI was moving into incorporation of external data, clickstream analysis, packaged solutions, data quality solutions, analytical calculations, CRM support and financial payback. While not seemingly all that innovative, if these were accomplished, traditional data warehousing would be rendered a thing of the past.

Welcome to the past.

With the economic woes that led to tightened budgets combined with Sept. 11 right before the usually slow fourth quarter, the year in BI went like the year in IT -- flat.

All of these things are still trends -- for 2002, not just 2001. All are still relevant. What was hot in 2001 was the financial payback aspect of BI. No longer were shops given dollars to speculate on BI with. Executives demanded payback. Some BI organizations responded. Others, seeped in technical elegance at the expense of business results and without a hope of approaching ROI, faltered. Data warehousing became dirty words in several shops. But BI is still necessary whether we call it data marts or data repository or the customer database.

The realization is growing that no matter what business a company is in, it is also in the business of data these days. Those companies with more data, cleaner data, accessible data and the business processes to exploit the data will emerge the winners in saturated markets that dictate that former competitive advantages are simply tickets to entry. This realization of the competitive advantage that data produces is reaching the midmarket as well as the Fortune 500 these days.

Of the disappointments in BI, with all the e-busts, clickstream did not get the attention that we thought. It's not clear yet to many how important the web channel will be so investments are limited to functionality, let alone trying to make sense of the deluge of clickstream.

Going into 2002, the hottest trend has got to be the packaged approach to BI.

According to DataQuest, the market for packaged business intelligence (PBI) will grow from $602.3 million in 1998 to $3.2 billion in 2003. It is the hottest submarket within BI today and provides numerous benefits over custom data warehouse approaches including overcoming the business distrust that IT can deliver, fewer vendors to deal with, lowered staff requirements, bounded ROI and the number one benefit -- time to market.

Furthermore, the selling engines for these packages are focused completely on the business as risk-averse and overworked IT personnel support requirements are minimized. Business areas are concerned with maximizing the value of their information assets -- finding ways to leverage strategy investments in data warehousing and other data capturing solutions. They are less concerned about specific aspects of technology and more interested in finding a solution that will provide substantial productivity gain and competitive advantage.

As IT spending comes out of its doldrums in 1Q02 - 2Q02, BI will be leading the way. It has proven itself time and time again and will do so once again.

For more information, check out searchCRM's Best Web Links on Business Intelligence.

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