Search-Based Analytics, the next Frontier in Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence (BI) represents the collection of tools and technologies used to transform raw data into useful insights. BI and related analytics is one of the fastest growing industries with Gartner estimating the market to grow to $22.8bn by 20201. By then, Gartner expects that 50% of analytic queries will be generated using search, natural language processing, and voice2. Search-based BI and analytic solutions will be at the forefront of this transition away from traditional approaches that rely on standard point and click navigation.

The Consumer Era of B2B Analytics

A decade or so ago, the BI tools used at work tended to be more sophisticated than the technologies that we were used at home and in our personal lives. Those were the days when people stayed late in the office to browse on high-speed T1 lines rather than go home to their AOL dial-up internet. Consider how things have changed:

  • High-speed internet is ubiquitous and customers have a variety of options at their disposal.
  • The high-availability of high-speed internet has given rise to thousands of apps and websites that are used by billions of users every day: Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc.
  • These websites have invested heavily in delivering personalized experiences to the consumer, provide instantaneous access to real-time data and insights, and feed precisely the information the consumer needs at just the right time.

As a result, consumer apps have dramatically outpaced traditional BI solutions in terms of innovation, user experience, personalization, speed, and responsiveness. Not many will argue against the conclusion that the most sophisticated software we use in our lives today is personal rather than professional in nature. This transformation has significant implications for BI buyers and suppliers.

User Adoption – A New Focus for Business Intelligence

Research indicates that BI solutions, despite the level of investment directed at them, suffer from poor adoption by the user community. It is probably safe to say that the % of users active daily on Facebook or Google is significantly higher than the % of the intended users actively using a corporate BI solution. Most estimates peg BI adoption rates at around 20% with the vast majority of users not logging in for weeks at a time. This is not surprising given how little attention has been paid historically to user experience and user engagement.

Many of the traditional BI solutions on the market do not even provide a way to measure user engagement. Why would they, when user engagement is not even a peripheral factor in BI ROI models that predominantly focus on total cost of ownership?  A user adoption rate of 20% implies that the actual ROI of most traditional BI solutions are 5x lower than expected. But improving user adoption is no easy task, particularly when users are comparing their experience to the more sophisticated and intuitive experience provided by the consumer apps they trust and use every day.

The Promise of Search

How many of us have gone through numerous training programs and workshops as part of a BI solution onboarding process? Almost all of us. Now, guess how many people had to go through a training course to learn how to Google. Probably and hopefully, no one. In the last few years, the search has become the primary mechanism through which information is accessed and distributed. As humans, we are now at the point where using a search engine is hardwired into our online behavior. Search is easy, simple, and intuitive when paired with modern algorithms that learn from the user’s behavior and make relevant suggestions.

Search, when executed well, is also very effective in driving engagement because the interaction with data is much more conversational and personal. BI solutions where people ask a question and analyze at the speed of thought are much more likely to capture and keep user attention. Conversational analytics platforms such as Infinity™ are leading the way in delivering on the promise of search. In our experience, customers are able to analyze 5x faster on Infinity™ compared to traditional BI solutions3 . What’s more, these users keep wanting more and log in almost on a daily basis thereby making their teams more data-driven and decisions more objective.

If analytics is king, then user adoption is god, and search is the holy grail of next-generation BI solutions.



2. Gartner - Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms, Published Feb, 2017.

3. Stotle analysis of Infinity™ user engagement KPIs from actual customer deployments