Business intelligence and analytics solutions are no longer the preserve of the most tech-heavy industries, and as BI becomes easier to deploy and use across the organisation, its strategic importance is coming to the fore. The demand for business intelligence (BI) and analytics solutions is increasing across the Middle East as CIOs realise the value they provide as an analytical and decision making tool. The appeal of such solutions isn’t confined to just a few sectors: companies across various verticals are implementing BI and analytics projects with success stories from leading banks and financial institutions, government and hospitality. Gartner predicts that the MENA BI software market will reach $182m in 2013, an 11% increase from 2012
“In the Gulf region, a lot of excess cash is fueling fast economic and structural development and growth. Asset-based oil and construction industries, with little digitised information, did not see an immediate need to focus on BI in the past, but they are now some of the fastest-growing segments,” says Dan Sommer, principal research analyst, Technology and Service Provider Research, Gartner. “Financial services, aviation and pharmaceuticals are other industries showing great potential for adoption in this region.”
“The GCC business environment is undergoing a change towards better infrastructure alignment and as the need for more business value dependent decisions grows, the requirement of better business intelligence and analytics to drive decision making will come into play,” Meera Kaul, managing director, Optimus highlights.
Most of the main players software vendors such as Microsoft, SAS, IBM, Oracle and SAP have BI offerings, along with many tier two ERP solutions which have integrated BI tools.
Business intelligence is the focus of this market, which is about providing customers with the ability to report, analyse and visualise data in a way that’s useful and meaningful to the user and organisation. But there are other features that also becoming more popular.
Data discovery is becoming more common in the region,” says Paul Devlin, director of business analytics at SAP MENA. “This will typically apply to a user’s personal data residing on their desktop. It can also apply to data held in the data warehouse. This type of software gives the user access to upload structured and unstructured data enabling them to find and detect new patterns and insights at the speed of thought. Furthermore, it then allows the users to share these new insights with the rest of the organisation, through email or internal collaboration engines. This type of software requires almost no involvement from IT, allowing users to create and own reports on the fly.
“We are seeing an increase in social media analytics, both internally and externally,” he continues. “We are also witnessing the rise of predictive analytics. How do I move my organisation from its ‘rear view mirror’ view of data to being able to predict what might happen today, tomorrow, next month or next year? It is a transition from hindsight to foresight.”
Nowadays it’s easy for companies and staff to start using BI and analytics packages, as Ali Hyder CEO of Focus Softnet highlights: “Up to about five years ago, it was very difficult for enterprises to implement BI tools, as only tier one ERPs were providing BI, and it required lots of configuration and skilled implementation resources. Now the implementation of BI has become much simpler as customisation is more user-friendly at the interface level.”
Benefits are also becoming clearer, with businesses able to see how they can improve operational efficiency, productivity, reduce business risks, mitigate points of failure and almost always create differentiated and more personal customer experiences.
“[Benefits include] rapid access to information, version control and removal of Excel proliferation,” notes Denzil Murray-Lee, Infor’s channel manager for Enterprise Performance Management for the MEA.