2005 Readers' Choice Awards - InformationWeek

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Software // Information Management

2005 Readers' Choice Awards

Are Microsoft tools popular simply because users haven't been exposed to anything else? New questions qualify the results of our annual survey on preferred suppliers. Adobe, Business Objects, Google, IBM, Oracle, SAS, SAP and, of course, Microsoft are among the winners in 39 categories.

Intelligent Enterprise polls its readers every year to find out which vendors are most deserving of praise in a variety of technology categories. This year, the task we put to readers was more broad-ranging than ever; after merging with Transform Magazine late last year, our mission now encompasses content management as well as expanded coverage of business process management. Our thanks to the hundreds of readers who shared their opinions on the stand-out vendors serving the 39 categories on the 2005 ballot.

Not only did we make this year's ballot bigger, we also made changes to check for reader bias. You see, when Microsoft swept many of the 2004 Readers' Choice Award categories, some readers asserted that it won so many categories only because of the proliferation of Microsoft "shops," where people unfamiliar with "better" products vote for Microsoft only because it's what they know.

This year, to filter out the influence of corporate purchasing policies, we asked voters to state how many products in each category they had evaluated or used in the past two years. It turns out that the majority of voters haven't tried more than one of any given product type in the past two years. When you filter these loyalists out, you still get mostly the same winners ... except that Microsoft and Oracle would win even more categories! The Business Intelligence award, for example, clearly went to Business Objects this year when you count all the votes. However, if you considered votes only from those who've tried two or more products recently, Microsoft would edge out Business Objects. Oracle would take the CRM category away from Salesforce.com and the Customer or CRM Analytics categories from Siebel.

Business size seems to make a bigger difference in the results. Mercury would beat Computer Associates in the Application Change Management category if you counted only the votes from respondents who work for companies with at least $500 million a year in revenue. Using the same filter, IBM would be preferred over Microsoft for SOA tools. Large-company respondents preferred Siebel over Salesforce.com for CRM. SAS would beat Microsoft in Embedded/Guided CRM Analytics. Oracle would tie with Kalido for CDI. Oracle wouldn't have to share the DBMS spotlight with Microsoft. SAS and Oracle would beat Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) in Performance Management. SAS and IBM would beat MBS in Corporate Governance and Compliance. Finally, among larger companies, IBM would rise to parity with the three companies that tied in the Business Process Management category.

Does any of this show which vendors are "the" best? Not necessarily. "Best" is in the eye of the beholder and depends on requirements. Vendors with few votes sometimes had enthusiastic supporters. "Pivotal is a seminal product," says Mike McGlynn, a director of sales and marketing intelligence for a small business, who voted for Pivotal in the CRM and the Customer or CRM Analytics categories. "We use it for RAD [rapid application development] ... and nothing comes close."

Consultant Alan Crowther, managing officer at Adjoined Consulting, recommends little-known Actimize for Complex Event Processing. "It's great for implementing real-time event processing for ... customer retention or broker trade surveillance on Wall Street."

"MicroStrategy is simply the best in class for business intelligence," raves Applied Analytics senior business analyst Scott Tesar. "Its architecture is elegant, but its power/complexity is hidden from end users."

So, what can you deduce from the results? Because Intelligent Enterprise readers tend to be visionary yet practical, we think you can conclude that the winners represent good value for the greatest spectrum of users.

The Numbers

Greatest Percentage of Votes in a Category
(Search, Taxonomies and Categorization)

Most Category Wins (tie)


Highest Customer Satisfaction Score (tie)

SAS (Web/Clickstream Analytics)
Salesforce.com (Customer Relationship Management)

Category Winners

Best BI Suite
Business Objects

Best Performance Management Suite
Microsoft Business Solutions

Best Data Mining Toolset

Best Statistical Analysis Toolset

Best Visualization Utility

Best Text Mining Toolset (tie)

Best Complex Event Processing System

Best Business Activity Monitoring System (tie)

Best Web or Clickstream Analytics

Best Portal Platform

Best CRM Suite

Best Customer or CRM Analytics
Siebel Systems

Best Embedded/Guided CRM Analytics
Microsoft Business Solutions

Best Customer Data Integration Application

Best Enterprise Information Integration Application

Best Extract, Transform and Load Toolset

Best Data Quality and Profiling Toolset

Best Database Management System (tie)

Best Geographic Information System

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