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Gartner BI Summit 2008: The Next Generation of Innovation

Decision making as core competency, emerging technologies as BI enablers and changes in the BI market itself are core topics at this week's Gartner Business Intelligence Summit in Chicago. Analyst Kurt Schlegel explains the trends and business drivers.
Then there's the third area of innovation, integrating BI into processes and applications, something SAP and Business Objects were talking about in their union.

We're not going to get into process management so much as BI platforms as a stack play and how stack-centric you should be. It sounds like I'm saying "the sky is blue," but you want to be cautious around anything that is overtly proprietary. A lot of the mega vendors are saying two different things. They're saying, "yeah, we're going to be open," but they are also saying "but we're going to be better together." You can't have it both ways. If they are hiding functionality or creating more proprietary APIs and not exposing that to third parties, that's going to be a problem. You want to be vigilant in your vendor selection in pushing for a world that is still very much best-of-breed where you can mix and match. So not only are the stacks interoperable, they also have to be portable so you can rip out one layer and replace it with something else. I'm not sure every vendor has that same vision.

So what should buyers look out for?

Microsoft, for example, is an obvious example because you have to have the development environment. With SAP BW, there are some BAPIs they expose to third parties, but are they going to give Business Objects the inside track and not let Cognos work on top of BW on a level playing field? Those are the kind of things you want to look out for.

You haven't talked a lot about data warehousing, but column-store databases and data warehouse appliances seem to be a hot topic. Any comments?

It is a hot topic, and it's not unlike the appeal of in-memory technology. It's about solving the performance problem by throwing hardware at it rather than labor. That's a big uber-trend that [analyst] Don Feinberg is going to talk about at the Summit. Hardware-based solutions cost money, but they're probably more efficient in the long run than throwing labor at the problem and building aggregates and summary tables as we've done in the past.