It won't be too long now before end users will be leveraging voice commands to launch queries against business intelligence applications in the cloud.
According to Steve Stone, senior vice president of cloud intelligence at MicroStrategy, the fundamental technology components for delivering such services are already in place. Business intelligence services in the cloud are already gaining momentum, while the new Siri voice command capability that Apple delivered with the recent launch of the iPhone 4S serves to highlight the power of voice command technology. Given that capability, all a sales representative would have to do to access the latest information about any given customer is to ask for it from their smartphone.
Stone says that MicroStrategy has already been working with interactive voice recognition (IVR) systems for years, so a move to add support for Siri would not be as far a jump for MicroStrategy as it might be for other BI vendors.
According to Stone, Siri support is only one of several ways the BI software will expand in the cloud in the coming year. End users should also expect to see more information pushed out to their mobile computing devices based on their personal profiles, which in many cases will be tightly coupled to the profiles they set up in social networking services such as Facebook.
In addition, Stone says BI applications in that context will also take greater advantage of geospatial data in order to enhance the mobile computing experience. Right now, MicroStrategy provides BI application software in the cloud via a virtual appliance model that gives each customer its own instance of MicroStrategy software. MicroStrategy in 2012 will also be working on a multi-tenant implementation of its software in the cloud that will make it more affordable for small-to-medium businesses to deploy BI in the cloud as well.
What's not clear is how much data will actually move into the cloud. Stone thinks many organizations will simply opt to draw a proverbial line in the sand and decide to keep new data in the cloud, rather than going to the expense of migrating existing BI data into the cloud. Whatever the outcome, the one thing that Stone is sure about is that BI scenarios in the cloud are destined to be hybrid for years to come.
But as 2012 evolves, the bigger question of the day may not be where is the data stored, but rather, how easily can it be accessed?