Ever seen an annual report without a pie graph? Me either. That's because pretty much every company in the world buys into the idea of using visuals to break up reams of dry data.
Despite this, spreadsheets -- not an especially compelling interface --remain the dominant format for serving up business intelligence data. But that picture could be changing. Gartner, among others, is predicting that predictive modeling and visual solutions such as dashboards will help usher in a new era http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/tve/?p=253of BI tools.
A vendor interviewed in an internetnews.com story says that such tools facilitate faster and more effective decision-making. At the very least, they make it easier to spot broad patterns and trends. That's becoming a necessity as companies collect rapidly growing piles of data -- at least some of which likely contain competitive insights.
The move toward visual tools is part of a broader effort to win more users by incorporating technologies that have won favor among consumers -- such as search and collaboration -- into BI tools. Interactive visualization technology will become a common front-end to BI applications over the next two years, predicts Gartner in this Computerworld story.
While this trend seems largely positive, since companies are clamoring for BI tools that "non-experts" can use, Gartner warns that IT should take steps to avoid an unchecked proliferation of these tools. First, IT must realize that they will likely make their way into the enterprise, whether or not they are officially sanctioned. Writes Gartner:
The reality is that central IT has very little power to prevent business units (and users) from adopting these technologies.
Three more specific suggestions from Gartner: