Worldwide spending on business-analytics software will hit $50.7 billion by 2016, according to a new report from research firm IDC. Furthermore, IDC predicts that the business-analytics market will enjoy a robust compound annual growth rate of 9.8 percent on its way to that revenue number. The media buzz surrounding “Big Data,” which has brought analytics increasingly to the attention of senior executives, will help propel that growth. “Driven by the attention-grabbing headlines for Big Data and more than three decades of evolutionary and revolutionary developments in technology and best practices,” Dan Vesset, program vice president for IDC’s Business Analytics Solutions, wrote in a July 11 statement accompanying the data, “the business analytics software market has crossed the chasm into the mainstream mass market.” However, he added, “the demand for business analytics solutions is exposing the previously minor issue of the shortage of highly skilled IT and analytics staff.” Within the business-analytics software market, the fastest-growing segments included data warehousing platform software (which experienced 15.2 percent year-over-year growth in 2011), followed by analytics applications (13.3 percent last year) and B.I. and analytic tools (13.2 percent). IDC’s report also indicated that the current spasm of mergers and acquisitions within the business-analytics industry—highlighted by companies such as Oracle and Salesforce snatching up smaller startups with tightly-focused product lines—could continue for some time. “A growing emphasis on industry and business process-specific analytic applications is going to take hold over the forecast period,” read IDC’s research summary. “This will be a long-term trend that is likely going to accelerate M&A activity in the business analytics market.” In addition to that rise in mergers and acquisitions, IT vendors will devote still more resources to business-analytics services, including research and development. IDC isn’t the only research firm to point out a lack of analysts trained in handling company data. In a June research note, for example, Constellation Research analyst Neil Raden suggested that the need for analysts is “greater than ever.” An earlier report from consulting firm McKinsey & Company likewise predicted that the demand for analytical talent in the U.S. is rapidly outpacing supply. As a way to deal with that shortage of trained experts, some analysts have suggested that IT vendors design B.I. tools capable of being used by regular workers with a modicum of training. According to Forrester analyst Boris Evelson, for example, business workers should carry out roughly 80 percent of an organization’s B.I. requirements, while IT pros handle the other 20 percent. “Forrester by no means advocates that firms transfer complex, mission-critical, enterprise-wide B.I. applications—especially those that carry external exposure or other operational risk—into the hands of non-IT professionals,” he wrote in a June 12 corporate blog posting. However, he added, placing a significant percentage of app control into the hands of average workers could help keep data analysis running on schedule.   Image: Mopic/