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Emerging Trends in BI 2012 and the Microsoft stack

I just finished watching a webinar from The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) on the top BI trends for 2012 and thought I’d match those trends to the Microsoft stack for comparison.  According to TDWI, the top 7 trends are as follows:

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        1. Self-service BI – Enabling business users to perform their own modeling and analysis with little to no input from IT.  This need has existed for a while and continues to grow.  The following technologies cover this well and if you want to see them live, just ask for a demo!
        2. Mobile BI – During SQL PASS Microsoft announced their 2012 roadmap for embedded mobile support in SQL Server 2012  Of course third party apps are always available for immediate support
        3.  Cloud computing – Or more specifically, BI in the cloud, exists in SQL Azure now.
        4.  Advanced analytics – Although this term can imply a broad topic, we’re essentially talking about predictive analytics (i.e. data mining).  SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) has supported data mining for a long time.  However, the roadmap continues to expand with:
          • Embedded data mining – Out of the box support
          • Data mining in the cloud – Giving your users access to unlimited scalability for large number crunching analysis (video no demo)
          • 3rd party, self-service, cloud-based data mining with Excel integration is also available.
        5. Big Data – We’re not talking DW Appliance big (although Microsoft is well trenched in the appliance space), we’re talking so big the data can’t fit in a database!  Apache Hadoop is designed for just such a problem and Microsoft has planned support of this technology which will be embedded in their core Windows operating systems (including Azure) and integrated throughout their BI delivery tools.
        6. Data Visualization – Improving the user’s ability to absorb and understand data is a critical success factor that should be branded on every BI developer’s paycheck. Fortunately, with the numerous choices already present in the Microsoft stack, along with the introduction of Power View (see above) this trend is well covered.
        7. Social BI – Now this is an interesting one and I’ll be watching its trend closely.  The TDWI study looked at Facebook specifically, but we should consider Twitter and some other social spaces as well.  The premise here is that social BI becomes relevant for specific industries, primarily retail and marketing, where getting instant feedback on ads or shopper movements/sentiment (your cell phone is watching you, you know…) can be desirable.  With relatively little coding, this example shows how Twitter feeds can be analyzed in PowerPivot  I would expect to see native connectors for these soon if they don’t already exist.

In short, the Microsoft BI stack has our future needs covered pretty well!

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Duane Schafer

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