Organisations will spend a total of £992m worldwide on business intelligence software during 2007, Gartner has predicted.
Research by the analyst firm found that IT directors considered business intelligence to be their number one technology priority for the second year running. In particular, consolidation of business intelligence tools will be a major focus.
Gartner said that, until recently, many firms had bought business intelligence systems at a departmental level, resulting in myriad different tools being used across the business.
For 2007, Gartner said firms were looking to use a single system across the business to ensure a consistent, standardised approach to analysing and measuring data, which should also boost operational efficiency.
Opening last week's Gartner Business Intelligence Summit in London, Gartner research vice-president Andreas Bitterer said, "Business intelligence has become a strategic initiative and is now recognised by CIOs and business leaders as instrumental in driving business effectiveness and innovation."
But Bitterer warned that business intelligence was not well understood by many companies' employees, which meant an increased focus on training would be crucial in 2007.
A survey at Gartner's 2006 Business Intelligence Summit found that large organisations that use business intelligence spend an average of £768,000 a year on the software. For many of these organisations, Gartner said there was a significant shift towards bringing business intelligence "to the masses" by making the tools available to increasing numbers of employees, as well as customers, business partners and suppliers.
Nigel Rayner, research vice-president at Gartner, said organisations that had implemented enterprise resource planning systems were looking at business intelligence software to extract value from the massive amount of data they stored as a result of ERP.
Rayner said, "Once people know what factors impact business performance, they can change what they are doing. ERP helps you do things better, but business intelligence helps you do better things."
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This was first published in February 2007