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BI Market Grows 22% In Tough Economy

SAP/Business Objects led the pack with 24% of the business intelligence market; SAS Institute and Oracle tied for second place.

Worldwide sales of business intelligence software grew a hearty 22% in 2008, according to Gartner, proving that many companies see BI as a good investment during tough economic times.

Total revenue for the market came in at $8.8 billion, with six vendors -- SAP/Business Objects, SAS Institute, Oracle, IBM/Cognos, Microsoft, and MicroStrategy -- owning 75% of the market.

SAP/Business Objects led the pack with 24% of the market, or $2.1 billion in sales last year. SAS Institute and Oracle tied for second place, each with 14.6% of the market, followed by IBM/Cognos, with 11.3%. Microsoft came in with 7.7%, and MicroStrategy, 3.2%.

Gartner included sales of BI platforms (or suites), analytic applications, and performance management software in its analysis.

By comparison, the market for worldwide BI software grew only 13% between 2007 and 2008, according to a Gartner report issued last year. Growth was stronger in 2008 because companies are looking to "increase transparency" to identify costs and better align strategy with execution, said Gartner analyst Dan Sommer.

In 2008 and 2007, the four largest vendors made up about two-thirds of the market, compared with one-fifth of the worldwide market in 2006. Gartner also indicated that many smaller BI companies saw low or no growth last year.

"Most, but not all, of the midtier independent BI vendors targeting businesses struggled more, which indicates that there is bifurcation in buying to either more stack-centric behavior, or smaller tactical departmental projects," Sommer said in a statement.

In other words, many customers of vendors that sell a wide swath of enterprise applications and systems, such as IBM, SAP, and Oracle, are likely now going to those vendors for their BI needs, too. Also, there may be fewer instances of business departments purchasing BI from smaller vendors.

Pure-play vendor SAS Institute, however, reported perhaps the strongest growth. The privately held company reported to Gartner that it had $1.29 billion in revenue in 2008, compared with the $752 million it reported for 2007, shooting it into second place in 2008 BI market share after SAP.

InformationWeek Analytics has published an independent analysis of what IT and corporate professionals are looking for in business optimization. Download the report here (registration required).

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