Advanced analytics was the hot new frontier of business intelligence (BI) in 2011. The growing vogue for “data science” stemmed in part from many users’ desire to take their BI investments to the next level of sophistication, leveraging multivariate statistical analysis, data mining, and predictive modeling into powerful new applications for customer relationship management (CRM) and back-office business processes.

Business investments in advanced analytics will continue to deepen in the coming year. Here are some of the highlights that Forrester anticipates in this vibrant field in 2012:

  • Open-source platforms will expand their footprint in advanced analytics. As the enterprise Hadoop market continues to mature and many companies deploy their clusters for the most demanding analytical challenges, data scientists will begin to migrate toward this new, open source-centric platform. At the same time, enterprise adoption of the open-source R language will grow in 2012, and we’ll see greater industry convergence between Hadoop and R, especially as analytics tool vendors integrate both technologies tightly into their offerings.
  • Data science centers of excellence will spring up everywhere. As the role of data scientists grows, more organizations will establish centers of excellence in 2012 to foster standardization, reuse, collaboration, governance, and automation within and across advanced analytics initiatives. These centers of excellence will leverage and extend established BI best practices. They will provide a convergence point for statistical analysts and subject-matter experts looking to share their expertise. They will also provide forums and resources for long-time BI and data management professionals to enhance their skills in hot new areas such as text mining, sentiment analysis, social network analysis, behavioral analytics, and ensemble modeling.
  • Predictive analytics and interactive exploration will enter the mainstream BI user experience: As statistics-driven prediction and what-if scenario modeling become core functions of all business analysts, BI vendors will deepen their implementation of these features in their core products in 2012. In other words, what we regard today as “advanced” analytics is rapidly on the way to becoming mainstream analytics. Already, the new generation of self-service, in-memory, exploratory BI clients are the preferred tools for business analysts and power users. Even the traditional statistical analysis “rocket scientist” power tools have become far more user-friendly, visual, and wizard-driven over the past several years, facilitating broader adoption of this technology for the new world of ubiquitous big data.

Of course, there are many other advanced analytics trends that Forrester will focus on in the coming year. But the high-level trends we’ve spelled out here define the main contours of the emerging industry landscape.