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Special Report: BI Megatrends 2008

Complacency Be Gone! Enterprises seeking a competitive edge are looking toward competency centers, MDM, real-time deployments, data virtualization, workload management and operational intelligence. We help you answer six questions that will lead to innovative new BI strategies.

BI, we hardly knew ye. Just when everyone thought there was general agreement on what business intelligence (BI) was – methods, tools and systems for manipulating quantitative data to build views and perform analysis for decision-making – the industry changes so much that we may again have competing definitions.

Is BI part of an organization’s information management infrastructure? Is it middleware? Do casual users need it, or does the biggest ROI come from providing richer analytics to power analysts? Should it be separate from or tightly integrated with applications, rules and process management systems? Perhaps paradoxically, the BI industry’s maturation could bring more diversity in the answers to these questions, not less.

As the New Year unfolds, it would be easy to reduce what happened to the BI industry in 2007 to one colossal megatrend: consolidation. Oracle bought Hyperion Software. SAP acquired Business Objects (and a few others). And Cognos, which itself acquired Celequest in late 2006 and Applix in 2007, is in the process of being snapped up by IBM. To be sure, several important BI tool and platform players are still independent, including Actuate, Datawatch, Information Builders, MicroStrategy, Panorama and SAS. Also unchanging is the growing presence of Microsoft, not to mention that of open source BI, the domain of Pentaho and Jaspersoft. Performance management and specialized data- and text-analytics vendors still abound. Nonetheless, it feels like the industry as a whole has turned in a new direction and will never again resemble its pre-2007 self.

Could there be more consolidation in 2008? Entirely possible: If nothing else, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP are now markets unto themselves and will undoubtedly stay on the hunt to acquire software products and services that fill holes and create competitive advantages. This article explores how the consolidation trend might play out, but more importantly it presents six important megatrends in the context of questions organizations and BI practitioners must answer as they evaluate software and work to deliver on key strategies with BI.

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