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Simple BI tools kick-starting market

Demand for information exploration growing in the Middle East due to availability of simple tools

Simple BI tools kick-starting market
Tapadinhas: Small vendors are growing very fast because their tools are very easy to deploy.

Easy-to-use business intelligence (BI) and analytics tools from the likes of Qlik and Tableau are kick-starting demand for information exploration in the Middle East, according to Joao Tapadinhas, research director at Gartner.

Speaking to ITP.net, Tapadinhas said that smaller BI and analytics vendors are seeing extremely quick growth in the Middle East. According to a recent Gartner report, Qlik saw 40.3% growth from 2013 to 2014 in the region, while Tableau saw growth of 77.8% over the same period. Tapadinhas said that this growth could be attributed to the fact that the tools are easy to use, which suits them well to the relatively immature market of the Middle East.

“Those small vendors – Qlik and Tableau, for example – are growing very fast because their tools are very easy to deploy, very easy to use and to support. And so that makes it easier for companies that haven’t adopted BI before to get started and to move faster,” he said.

“A retailer, for example, in the GCC region does not use the same level of analytics sophistication that you’ll find in the US, which is the most advanced market. But they’re starting to at least deploy BI systems, to monitor the business performance. I think that this will accelerate in the coming years.”

Indeed, Tapadinhas added that solutions from these smaller vendors are so easy to use that business users are circumventing IT by buying the products using their own budgets.

“In many organisations, it’s the business units that go out and buy the tools themselves, while IT is still struggling with ERP and CRM and so on and so forth. Very often we see business units buying Qlik, buying Tableau, and starting to explore their information,” he said.

According to Tapadinhas, this sort of behaviour is helping to drive what he called an analytics culture – a company-wide realisation that performance can be optimised by leveraging the information at hand. He said that this sort of culture was essential if organisations wanted to pursue larger and more complex BI and analytics projects, such as tapping into the power of big data, for example.

However, he also pointed out that regional organisations tend to want to go for the bigger BI and analytics projects first, without testing the waters with smaller, simpler projects using easy-to-use tools.

“What we unfortunately see in some organisations – and this is a characteristic in the Middle East – is that everyone wants to build the biggest, largest BI project, and the risks, the complexity are very high, and the return on investment is not as it should be. It takes a long, long time – if it ever happens,” he said.

“My advice would be to start with small projects, and start with the new generation of information exploration tools - either from the smaller players coming into the market or from the established vendors that already have those kinds of tools.”

That said, Tapadinhas added that large organisations across the region are heavily investing in BI and analytics, and in some cases, creating a backbone for robust BI infrastructures. The main objectives, he said, are to provide KPIs, monitor businesses, and support sales and operations. However, he also pointed out that a number of regional organisations are going even further.

“I’m seeing investment in advanced analytics with predictive modelling capabilities. For example, investments made to prevent fraud, or to predict employee churn, or to optimise marketing campaigns, or to optimise pricing,” he said.

“I’m also seeing investments in big data. In some cases, it’s rather exploratory but there’s awareness, there’s interest, and there are investments being made in that area.”

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