Explosive increases in data volumes, greater compliance demands and new technologies such as RFID are fuelling demand for business-intelligence (BI) tools.
Gerry Cohen, president and chief executive of BI company Information Builders, said the trend will be towards adding BI into an organisation's operational systems with the highest cost in order to make better business decisions.
"We did a study of various BI applications to find where the biggest savings are located. Operational BI is where you are going to find the highest value," he told the company's Summit 2005 user conference in Las Vegas.
Keith Gile, principal analyst at Forrester Research, said the next three to five years will see accelerated demand for BI software and services: "We think there are real positive signs for growth in BI technology," he said.
Interest in BI projects is already outpacing other technologies, said Bob Suh, chief technical strategist at Accenture.
"Clearly BI is ahead of the curve — people are doing more with BI than they are generally doing with new technology. They are doing less sitting on the fence and are implementing more," he said.
According to research by Accenture, 15 percent of companies are at the proof-of-concept stage with BI, while 22 percent are engaged with a pilot and 36 percent said they have committed the business. One in 10 isn't doing anything and 12 percent are monitoring the situation.
Accenture said there is an explosive increase in data — with new technologies such as RFID adding to the pressure.
And as interest in BI increases even industry giant Microsoft has revealed it is working on its own offering, codenamed Maestro.
But David Small, vice-president of Information Builders' international division, told ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com his company had little to fear from Microsoft: "They will run on a certain platform and handle a certain application but they aren't going to be the company that runs on Linux and mainframes and other disparate sources," he said.
At the event, Information Builders announced it is working with BearingPoint to provide BI packages for the insurance industry. It also announced that its WebFocus 7 software is now shipping.