Software // Information Management
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11/12/2007
11:59 PM
Neil Raden
Neil Raden
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One-Stop-Shop BI Equals One Big Yawn!

All this deal means is that Business Intelligence software as we know it is a mature technology that finally got some attention from well-heeled giants like Oracle, SAP and IBM. Don't expect them to take these platforms and rocket them into the stratosphere. All they are after are the impressive customer lists and what we used to call in the commercial property and casualty business, gross line underwriting. One-stop-shop... New approaches are needed, and are not likely to come from these three.

Okay, I waited for the last shoe to drop. Now that IBM plans to gobble up Cognos, leaving only Microstrategy as an independent BI pure-play, and a much smaller one than Hyperion, Business Objects or Cognos, I'm ready to offer my opinion of the whole thing.

Yawn.

Who cares? All it means is that Business Intelligence software as we know it is a mature technology that finally got some attention from well-heeled giants like Oracle, SAP and IBM. Don't expect them to take these platforms and rocket them into the stratosphere. All they are after are the impressive customer lists and what we used to call in the commercial property and casualty business, gross line underwriting. One-stop-shop. Give me the whole deal.What is likely to happen is that smaller, newer products will start to eat into the market share because 1) buyers are always a little suspicious of the one-stop-shop approach, 2) VC-funded start-ups have no trouble getting visibility, 3) business intelligence is an old idea. New approaches are needed, and are not likely to come from these three.

When you hear that business intelligence is a critical need for organizations, it's like the telephone game. People in companies tell IT they need tools to make them more efficient, to automate small decisions, to integrate things they do, both routine and out of the ordinary. IT hears that they need access to a data warehouse and vendors hear that they need interactive, ad hoc and reporting tools. Bottom line: they don't need more BI, they need something much better.

All three of these BI vendors have made substantial progress in refurbishing their products for a completely new world, but refurbishing only goes so far. The architectures can't really cut it. They need to scale, they need to be intelligent, they need to react in real-time when necessary, unattended when appropriate. They need to live on the Web.

Products like that are coming from start-ups.

SAP, as an applications company, is most likely to retool its BI acquisitions into players for the next decade. I'm not sure about Oracle yet, I'll know more in a few days. IBM? Seems like a software roach motel - companies check in but don't check out.

Neil Raden is the founder of Hired Brains, providers of consulting, research and analysis in Business Intelligence, Performance Management, real-time analytics and information/semantic integration. Neil is co-author of the just-released book "Smart Enough Systems," with business rules expert James Taylor.All this deal means is that Business Intelligence software as we know it is a mature technology that finally got some attention from well-heeled giants like Oracle, SAP and IBM. Don't expect them to take these platforms and rocket them into the stratosphere. All they are after are the impressive customer lists and what we used to call in the commercial property and casualty business, gross line underwriting. One-stop-shop... New approaches are needed, and are not likely to come from these three.

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