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According to Gartner, worldwide business intelligence (BI) platforms, analytic applications and performance management (PM) software revenue reached $12.2 billion in 2011, a 16.4% increase from 2010 revenue of $10.5 billion.

The BI, analytics and PM software market was the second-fastest growing sector in the overall worldwide enterprise software market in 2011, Gartner reports. IDC reports the global market for business analytics software grew roughly 14% in 2011, and between now and 2016, this market will grow at a compound annual rate of 9.8%, reaching US $50.7 billion.

To be sure, analytics/BI will continue its strong uptake in 2012 and beyond, but the nature of BI deployments is rapidly changing. Gone are the complex, costly, resource-intensive and IT-controlled BI deployments of the 80s and 90s.

Today’s analytics/BI deployments must be less costly and complex, faster, address specific business needs, include a wealth of intuitive, easy-to-use-tools, extend to mobile devices, and empower a greater number of business users to access, model and analyze data from across the enterprise.

Dashboards reign

BI dashboards serve an array of functions and end users — from strategic dashboards for executive management to operational dashboards for operational management to tactical dashboards for frontline workers.

Controlled-scope dashboard projects provide a fast and affordable way for SAP customers to drive their BI program forward in a way that yields immediate value with low risk — while providing a solid foundation for a future, more comprehensive and integrated BI program.

Leveraging preconfigured templates and implementation accelerators fine-tuned over years of experience, predefined, industry-specific dashboard views based on established best practices, and deep expertise across the entire SAP BOBJ BI and SAP Business Suite stacks, Optimal works with SAP customers to affordably build and implement leading-edge dashboards that can be rolled out in just a few weeks.

Integrate efficiently

The data required for effective decision making resides in numerous places throughout the enterprise – databases, data warehouses, operational applications, transactional systems, the Internet/Intranet, etc. Realizing the promise of analytics/BI necessitates pulling all of this disparate data together in real time without disrupting business.

In the past, consolidating and integrating data from multiple disparate sources was a costly, complex and time-consuming endeavor. For its part, SAP has made great strides in improving the speed and ease of integrating data with its analytics/BI solutions – most recently with the release of the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 platform.

IDC forecasts business analytics growth at a compound rate of 9.8 percent per year, hitting $35.1 billion this year and reaching $50.7 billion by 2016.

The new Business Intelligence Consumer Services (BICS) tool in BOBJ 4.0 greatly improves integration with the SAP Business Warehouse and makes it significantly easier to access, model and analyze transactional, operational and Web-based data from SAP and non-SAP systems. BICS also makes it easier to pull data from disparate sources into front-end SAP BI tools such as Crystal Reports, Dashboards (formerly Xcelsius) and Web Intelligence.

As the integration capabilities of analytics/BI solutions improve and more data sources can be pulled into the analytics/BI loop, the potential new business-uses for analytics/BI expands, the cost of implementing analytics/BI comes down, the time to value of analytics/BI speeds up, and the ROI of analytics/BI grows.

Fast, accurate, financial reporting

Financial reporting and forecasting processes must be fast, efficient and accurate. The SAP Business Objects Planning & Consolidation application – still commonly referred to as SAP BPC – falls under SAP’s analytic solutions umbrella and is grouped with SAP’s offering of enterprise performance management (SAP EPM) solutions.

From what Optimal is seeing, the pace of SAP BPC adoption has accelerated over the past year, with all signs pointing to the trend continuing. SAP customers clearly see the genuine immediate- and long-term business value SAP BPC provides. As such, green lighting an SAP BPC implementation has become a bit of a no-brainer.

More BI via mobility

Mobility in general, and tablets in particular, are great enablers of the analytics/BI expansion within the enterprise. According to Gartner, 33% of BI functionality will be consumed via handheld devices by 2013. Findings from a 2011 survey conducted by Dresner Advisory Services reveal that 61% of organizations established iPad-oriented mobile BI programs in 2011 and an additional 21% plan on deploying iPad-based mobility projects within the next 12 months.

As the tablet displaces the desktop and sustained improvements in analytics/BI ease of use foster greater self-service, the development and deployment of industry and role-specific BI reports, dashboards and ad hoc analytic capabilities will spread like wildfire to an ever-increasing number of workers throughout the enterprise.

Mobility applications typically fall into the categories of reporting, knowledge, workflow, and transaction enhancers, among others.  Applications within each of these categories run the gamut of simple applets to new, complex mobility-centric business processes.  Development time for mobile applications ranges from a few weeks for simple applets to 4 – 6 months for mobilizing more complex and/or newly created processes.

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