Not enough data there yet for it to be worth while, says Donald Farmer
Cloud computing is not yet a critical component of business intelligence, according to BI guru Donald Farmer.
CBR recently caught up with MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor, who described cloud computing as one of, "three electric waves, if not tsunamis, that are striking the technology world right now, and they’re remaking everything," along with the mobile network transformation and social network transformation.
"The significance of the cloud network tsunami is that we’re seeing incredible, almost unlimited computing power being unleashed into the cloud where it can be accessed on demand in real time, in an ad hoc fashion by any random person," Saylor told CBR. "Another way to say that is that the locus of server-side processing is moving from the data centre out into the cloud where you can bring it to bear for a variety of tasks that weren’t structured before."
However Farmer, QlikView product advocate and a former Microsoft employee, said cloud is not yet ready to support BI initiatives.
"Cloud is less important than Saylor would say. He’s put a big investment in so it’s important to him. We’re ready for cloud in the sense that we have partners who can deploy on the cloud and our demo site is hosted on Amazon," he told CBR. "But for me BI follows data and right now if you put BI in the cloud either you load your data there to analyse it or if you have BI on-premise you have to download the data to analyse it."
"When data is in the cloud it makes sense to have BI there but there isn’t enough data there at the moment. It’s an important trend and we’re ready for it but I don’t see it as critical for BI yet," Farmer continued. "Until there are more operational apps in the cloud why would you move a workload there to analyse it?"
According to Farmer, the changing way users interact with technology is the biggest wave shaking up the BI industry at the moment, ahead of cloud, social networks and mobility.
"Actually the least interesting thing about mobile is the mobility," he told CBR. "There is a much more important change than people realise; taking BI with you anywhere is interesting but there is something else behind it – the relationship between users and technology."
"That is fundamentally changing the industry. It’s a much more important change than cloud, social and mobile that Saylor mentioned," he added.
Previously BI products were built or acquired, deployed and administered by centralised IT teams, Farmer added, because of the cost and complexity. But with people now buying their own devices and using them for work purposes there is much more choice around technology use in the enterprise.
"That’s important because that’s the way the new consumer thinks about technology – it’s what you choose to do your job better," Farmer said. "It’s not a generational thing because it’s not true that younger people will change company culture. They have no strategic influence whatsoever."
Farmer went on to say that this is vital to the BI industry because it is, "ultimately about decision making. Decisions are not centralised, faceless things; they are personal and social activities. So you want the software to support you when making your decisions."