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2014: The Year the Entire Cloud Becomes Your Data Warehouse

Organizations will have the power at their fingertips to connect and query dozens of data sources in the moment

Now that Big Data has become a household name, 2014 will be the year companies demand solid proof that data can help their decision-making and their bottom line. As the entire web becomes a seamlessly connected data warehouse, I predict that organizations will have the power at their fingertips to connect and query dozens of data sources in the moment.

I have identified four key trends in business intelligence and cloud computing for 2014:

1. The entire web becomes the data warehouse.
Companies large and small are finally able to say good riddance to big capital expenditures in order to gain actionable insights from their data. Until now, an organization had to develop a data warehouse architecture, spend millions to build, maintain and upgrade it, and often fell victim to vendor and technology lock-in.

Now cloud computing, and cloud BI in particular, change the game to mine your business. Taken together, they let organizations of any size seamlessly connect their data sources on the fly. This approach will save substantial amounts of time and money, enabling enterprises to get answers to their business questions in the moment. The advantages of this lightweight yet powerful SaaS model will become apparent in 2014.

Being in the know will come down to connecting far-flung data repositories and querying them almost instantaneously, without moving the data around. It means getting rid of budget- and time-consuming installations or appliances. Instead, the entire web becomes a seamless and scalable data warehouse that grows with an organization's needs.

2. Cloud BI will put data scientists in their proper place -- where they contribute most value.
The business world is still aflutter over how to find, train and retain pricey data scientists. But as 2014 will show, it's the wrong question to ask. Going after the elusive data scientist in the hopes he can answer all your company's Big Data questions is like hunting for unicorns.

The coming year will bring a long-needed reality check. Yes, Big Data is here to stay and can add value to every business. But you don't need expensive experts to become a data-driven enterprise and find useful answers. The smart companies instead will begin with a small project and let employees run with their questions. Cloud BI that runs in any browser or mobile device will enable managers, salespeople and others to explore the topics that matter to them, querying the data sources they deem relevant. That way, they will discover the power of self-service BI and help it almost automatically scale out and scale up until it transforms the entire organization.

3. It's the visualization, stupid!
Surveys from respected market researchers like Gartner show that business customers want one thing above all from modern BI: visualizations that answer real questions and tell stories. But the same surveys also show that, so far, they are not getting it. Tangible BI benefits too often lag behind overhyped features.

I believe 2014 will be a breakthrough moment for data-driven storytelling and decision-making. It means saying adieu to PowerPoint decks and Excel spreadsheets that are clumsy and outdated the moment they are created. The way forward are live dashboards shared among many stakeholders inside and outside an organization that give everyone a customized view, ideally with animations.

Making data from across the web come alive to tell stories is no longer rocket science or a project at the mercy of an IT department. The power to bring data to life now rests with every user who can drag and drop connections, ask questions in the moment and share insights and trends as they happen.

4. Connections count. The smart organization will thrive by Drag and Drop.
Data sources proliferate at a dizzying speed. Almost every week, new streams come online that a modern company needs to monitor and analyze, from sensors and consumer actions to supplier feeds. If they don't tap into this data, they literally leave money on the table.

That's why the smartest enterprises will increasingly demand cloud services that are open ended, agile and flexible enough to accommodate as many new data streams as possible. Not a 10 or 20, but 50 or 60 data streams, no matter whether they are structured or unstructured, on-premise or from a server half a world away. What's more, these modern services have to be designed in a way that allows users to easily connect and query them to get answers to their pressing business questions at the spur of a moment.

In 2014, cloud BI will offer companies or teams inside an organization an easy, quick and affordable shortcut through the maze of messy sources, bypassing old and proprietary infrastructure. Think of it as an invitation to just "pay as you know," channeling and profiting from data streams we haven't even heard of today.

More Stories By Rachel Delacour

Rachel Delacour is CEO and co-founder of BIME, a European startup that empowers businesses of any size to profit in era of Big Data. She is considered a subject matter expert on cloud computing, SaaS, BI, enterprise computing and Big Data. She has presented on stage at such leading industry events as: DEMO, GigaOm Structure: Data, Interop Enterprise Cloud Summit, Google I/O, American Marketing Association Conference and LeWeb. She is regularly interviewed and quoted by well-known outlets such as GigaOm and InformationWeek.

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