Enter The Dragon - InformationWeek

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Software // Information Management
Commentary
4/14/2005
11:59 AM
Ted Kemp
Ted Kemp
Commentary
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Enter The Dragon

Microsoft plans to debut real-time reporting. Cue everybody else to plan big-time rethinking.

Even the biggest, most powerful software companies don't like to see Microsoft enter their markets. The same is true for the business intelligence vendors, no matter what they might be saying.

It recently came to light that Microsoft plans to beta test a real-time reporting server code-named "Maestro." You don't have to be a genius--or even very smart, actually--to see that such a move will threaten the existing, smaller analytics vendors who already offer such technology.

The BI vendors beg to differ, of course. When asked about having Microsoft competing for their bread and butter, most BI players get out their microscopes: They focus on a specific segment of their customer base, the industries they serve, or the specific functions they offer--anything that will make it possible to point to a real-sounding difference between what they do and what Microsoft is about to do. But as another story we're running this week explains, these vendors might be a little more worried than they're letting on.

"It has become common practice for software companies to welcome Microsoft's entry into their field by saying its presence validates their own strategies," says CRN's Barbara Darrow. "The vendors that have said words along those lines include WordPerfect, Lotus Development and Netscape Communications. None still exists as an independent entity. Microsoft ended up with the meat of their markets."

Microsoft wants more of the BI pie. So, for that matter, do Oracle, IBM, SAS, Siebel and other companies that until recently were never referred to as "business intelligence vendors." All the "traditional" BI and performance management firms--Business Objects, Hyperion, Information Builders, Cognos, MicroStrategy, Actuate, ProClarity et cetera, et cetera--have their own strengths and advantages. They'll each have to think long and hard on how to leverage them.

BI is where the action is, folks. And where there's action, there's going to be some fallout. Or perhaps buy-outs. Stay tuned.

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