Will BI Bring Accelerated Tech Spending in '09?

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Times are getting tough for the economy -- and for technology budgets -- with Forrester Research and other analysts scaling back their earlier estimates for spending growth.


Not surprisingly, thanks to the mortgage crisis, Forrester expects U.S. tech budgets to be hit particularly hard, growing just 2.6 percent this year. Globally, Forrester predicts growth of 6 percent, down from its earlier estimate of 9 percent.


Still, there is hope for bigger budgets as early as next year. Forrester analyst Andrew Bartels says that every eight years tech spending breaks from its pattern of mirroring the broader economy, with tech budgets outpacing GDP growth for another eight years. These 16-year cycles date back to the 1960s, reports The New York Times, and have allowed for adoption of such game-changing technology as the Internet and, earlier, the mainframe.


Bartels believes the next wave of accelerated investment will kick off in 2009, with more companies investing in business intelligence software to improve their business results. The major vendors are preparing for it, as evidenced by the flurry of BI acquisitions that closed out 2007.


Driving this trend is the belief that buried somewhere in the rapidly growing piles of corporate data are the kinds of insights that will give companies an edge over their competitors.


It won't be easy. Experts agree that BI software doesn't yet offer an experience that mimics the way humans make decisions. Still needed are elements such as the ability tosearch both structured and unstructured data and the ability to embed BI in commonly used applications and Web interfaces.


As with other major technology shifts, companies may initially find that relatively few knowledge workers possess the appropriate skills. The Times article includes an interesting aside from SAS Institute CEO Jim Goodnight, who contends that many business people lack the mathematics and conceptual skills needed to leverage BI.


In an effort to address this shortfall, SAS helped create an Institute for Advanced Analytics at North Carolina State University. Its first group of graduates will receive their degrees in advanced analytics in May, according to the Times.