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Ted Kemp
Ted Kemp
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Enterprise Software's Swelling BI Arsenal

The big software companies are boosting their BI capabilities, and we haven't seen the last of it.

Right about now is a good time to hold a stake a small analytics software firm. Not because the tech market is booming (it's not) or because such a company's stock is typically even traded on the public markets (it's not) but because there's a pretty good chance the company will get bought.

This week IBM snapped up Alphablox, a software maker that specializes in analytics, extending a string of acquisitions by Big Blue and making Alphablox the latest BI vendor to get bought up by one of the enterprise software players. IBM's goal: Put more business intelligence into its middleware, especially the DB2 data warehouse. The big software companies are boosting their BI capabilities, and we haven't seen the last of it.

Oracle, Siebel, PeopleSoft, IBM and Microsoft are on a tear to put more intelligence -- reporting and analytics, specifically -- into their enterprise offerings, either by acquisition or by developing the capabilities on their own. They recognize what their customers have already figured out: Business data is mushrooming, its analysis is a competitive imperative, and integrating multiple stand-alone BI tools with the data warehouse in order to carry out that analysis is a major pain in IT's butt.

The stand-alone BI companies -- Business Objects, Cognos, MicroStrategy and the like -- recognize the same thing, and they’ve made huge leaps in their efforts to make their offerings easily integratable with whatever data sources they're designed to tap. But the bigger software companies -- whose data warehouses, ERPs, CRM systems or other enterprise chunks of technology are going to be feeding information into analytics engines -- have figured, Hey, why not add some BI capability of our own on into this product? So that's what they're doing, and are going to continue to do.

A few weeks back, Business Intelligence Pipeline polled our readers to ask if you thought Microsoft's plans to build reporting functionality into SQL Server marked the beginning of the end for existing stand-alone BI reporting tools. More than 40 percent of you said yes, it does. As much as I hate to stand at odds with the readership, I wouldn't go so far just yet. The BI build-out under way at Microsoft, IBM and others is a little tentative right now, involving the acquisition of small analytics and reporting vendors whose capabilities don't match the leaders in the stand-alone market. But we'll see. In the meantime, try getting in on the ground level with any of your tech genius buddies who just landed seed funding for their new BI software startup. It could pay off in spades.

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