Big Data propels Business Intelligence to the cloud

According to a survey by Gartner in the last quarter of 2011, nearly one third of organizations either already use or are planning to use cloud or software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings to boost their core business intelligence (BI) functions. But what are the push and pull factors of moving BI to the cloud? The explosion of Big Data is a sure driver.

Big Data has arrived and is making its presence felt. Rather than viewing it as a challenge, more and more businesses are mining Big Data in their organizations to help improve business performance and elevate the customer experience.  The increase in cloud adoption, coupled with a more mindful approach to Big Data analytics, are giving rise to an increasingly attractive proposition for many CIOs -- BI in the cloud.

Big Data and Big Analytics
Leveraging Big Data can help companies improve competitive positioning, create new revenue streams and generate new businesses. However, for Big Data to make sense, organizations must be able to have the capability to sort through the mass, make the information easily accessible and equip themselves with analytics that drive better business insights and sales intelligence.

Conventional BI methodologies are increasingly challenged by the onset of Big Data. Previously, business intelligence was carried out on-premise with system managers conscientiously monitoring corporate databases.  However, the proliferation of unstructured data is rendering on-premise BI tools inadequate.

The sheer volume and complexity of unstructured date poses challenges to inadequately prepared companies, especially when it comes to the processing and management of the unprecedented surges in data growth. Without the right tools, big analytics is simply too time-consuming. The increased volume and complexity presented by the rise of unstructured data requires tens of thousands of servers running parallel software to handle the varying complex requirements of each dataset. This causes a strain on IT budgets.

How shifting Business Intelligence to the cloud can help optimize Big Analytics
The cloud has long been regarded as a convenient and efficient data warehouse. With its versatility, flexibility and ease of access, companies and cloud vendors are discovering the potential benefits of shifting BI functions to the cloud.  

In today’s cloud era, organizations have the option to tap into BI solutions in the cloud, easing off the need to invest in expensive BI tools, and storing massive amounts of unstructured data on-premise.

Most BI in the cloud providers operate on a pay-as-you-use and pay-as-you-grow model, so companies need not invest in expensive solutions upfront. Migrating to the cloud makes BI more affordable, enabling enterprise-class BI functions to be made available even to small and mid-sized companies.

The elastic characteristic of the cloud also enables BI functions to readily scale up or down according to business needs. BI in the cloud provides companies with a scalable base which can easily expand to meet surges in data volume. This reduces the compromise on analytics, ensuring the timeliness and integrity of results.

Harnessing the cloud benefits of flexibility and accessibility and integrating it with business analytics enables BI functions to be readily accessed at anytime and anywhere. Data is constantly and instantaneously updated without replication, thus increasing the efficiency of BI functions.  Businesses work only with what they need, leaving backend processes to service providers, while they focus on business growth. This is especially important for SMBs who do not have big enterprise budgets to hire CIOs to manage IT and storage systems, much less analysts to monitor business analytics.

However, just as with BI on-premise, businesses deploying BI in the cloud will still need to manage their own administrative chores, such as categorizing, organizing and programming business intelligence functions to enable the smooth running of big analytics on the cloud.

Security may also weigh heavily on the minds of companies, especially when it comes to valuable data analysis. In moving BI functions to the cloud, companies have to make sure that the BI cloud service provider is able to provide a secure environment. The chosen cloud service provider should also be able to minimize potential security breaches through technologies such as secure multi-tenancy.

With BI in the cloud, the power is in your hands

Data explosion is set to accelerate in the years ahead and business leaders are looking towards solutions that can efficiently and effectively mine the intelligence that are sitting within the organizations’ firewalls.

With Big Data pushing analytics to their limits, moving BI into the cloud can fundamentally transform predictive analysis.

BI in the cloud reduces the total cost of IT, while achieving greater flexibility and efficiency. Companies that effectively master the art of integrating data storage, business intelligence and the cloud will reap big rewards from their data, turning their challenges into valuable information capable of bringing rich returns.