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Business intelligence market trends and expert forecasts for 2008

Jeff Kelly, News Editor

The business intelligence market underwent some major changes in 2007: A slew of big-time

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acquisitions altered the vendor landscape dramatically; Microsoft claimed it was "changing the economics" of BI; and one city police department even used BI to fight crime. Here, our experts make sense of all the recent BI market action and predict what 2008 holds so you can better plan for the New Year.

William McKnight
Senior vice president of information management at East Hanover, New Jersey-based consulting firm Conversion Services International.

 

  • As organizations round out their technology stack, most will chiefly consider business intelligence (BI) offerings from one of the mega-vendors already in their shop, such as SAP, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle. Each is approaching or already offers complete stacks not just for BI, but enterprise software as a whole. Expect to see a push by vendors to cross-sell their offerings with discounts and the lure of tool integration.
  • Mastering master data in the operational environment will become a needed part of information management, starting in Fortune companies. The value proposition for MDM/CDI will become clearer as organizations begin using it to address problems with customers, products, parts, and other "lists" they struggle with having too many of and having too little data integrity with.
  • Operational BI will continue to grow. Some of the most critical decisions are made in the operations of the business and need to be made as soon as possible. In some cases, this is programmatic change and in other cases it means facilitating the information flow to decision makers, and sometimes both.

John Hagerty
Vice president and research fellow at Boston-based advisory firm AMR Research.

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  • Analytic applications will significantly increase in prominence. Historically, most of the attention in this market sector has focused on BI tools. Buyers increasingly demand information delivered to business users in the context of their role and job function within the organization. This will lead vendors to develop more and richer analytic applications either as standalone products or as dedicated parts of business process software.
  • Recent mergers and acquisitions will further force the standardization issue. 2007 brought a sea change to BI and performance management (PM) markets, as Oracle bought Hyperion, SAP added Business Objects to the family, and IBM snagged Cognos. With power quickly moving into the hands of large application and platform providers, expect a flurry of activities that will resurrect the BI/PM standardization discussion as companies evaluate investments in strategic technology platforms.
  • BI and PM will go pervasive. It's no longer an option to report and analyze metrics in isolation. Companies recognize the connections between operational performance and financial results, leading to an enterprise-wide as well as enterprise-deep plan of attack. But BI and PM also play important roles outside the four walls of the firm. We'll see the start of connecting the nodes in the extended value chain, applying analytics and intelligence from customers through suppliers.

Wayne Eckerson and Cindi Howson
Director of research for The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI), and founder of BIScorecard.com, respectively. The following is excerpted with permission from their recent coauthored report on business intelligence for TDWI.

 

  • As BI becomes more pervasive and is deployed on an inter-enterprise basis, vendors who currently offer only per-user pricing will also offer per-server pricing. Many BI vendors have begun to shift their pricing, but start-ups are using simplified, all-you-can-use pricing as a competitive differentiator.
  • Near-real-time dashboards will be in demand. Users want fresher data faster to gain insight into core operations and business processes and make faster, better decisions. This movement toward operational BI puts a premium on BI and data warehouse tools that capture and deliver data in near-real time. This opens up a whole new range of applications to BI and gives further momentum to dashboards as a primary vehicle for delivering information to an undertapped segment of users.
  • Event-driven analytic platforms come of age, as there are many analytic applications that require real-time monitoring and process execution. To date, organizations have custom-built these applications, but there is an emerging class of tools, event-driven analytic platforms, that capture business events in real time off messaging backbones, filter, calculate, and aggregate events, apply rules, and trigger alerts, queries, updates, or other actions when predefined thresholds have been exceeded.
  • System and usage monitoring will take precedence. Monitoring capabilities, currently lacking in most BI platforms, will reach show-stopper status as the number of BI users in any given deployment escalates, and as BI becomes mission critical. IT will rely on niche vendors (such as Teleran and Appfluent) that currently provide better monitoring capabili¬ties than many BI vendors.
  • Mission-critical infrastructures supporting BI solutions will become much more industrial strength in the next 12 months. A majority of enterprise BI customers will deploy BI solutions on clustered servers with failover and disaster recovery host sites. Many will also parallelize their ETL processes and load data warehouses in near-real time using "micro batches" or event-driven messaging feeds to overcome the limitations of shrinking batch windows, expanding data volumes, and 24x7 user access.

James Kobielus
Principal analyst of data management at Washington, D.C.-based Current Analysis.

 

  • BI is quickly becoming SOA's crown jewel. The past year has seen a rash of headline-grabbing mergers and acquisitions in the BI arena. What's driving this recent industry consolidation -- which is sure to continue in 2008 --is growing vendor recognition that SOA suites cannot be considered feature-complete unless they incorporate a comprehensive range of BI features.
  • BI is evolving into tailored business analytics. Performance management (PM) is rapidly becoming a key competitive front in the BI wars. Without a doubt, we'll see further verticalization of product and service offerings by PM vendors in 2008, which will provide a necessary hedge against the inevitable creep of commoditization into such horizontal analytics segments as financial, human resources, sales and marketing, and supply chain management.
  • BI going truly real-time through complex event processing. Complex event processing (CEP) promises business agility through continuous correlation and visualization of multiple event-streams. However, CEP has heretofore been conspicuously missing from the mainstream BI arena. That will change in 2008, as most leading BI vendors start to partner with CEP pure-plays, or acquire them outright, in order to strengthen their support for real-time event-driven applications.
  • BI tools will be increasingly bundled with data warehouse appliances. More and more data warehouse vendors will pre-integrate BI solutions -- their own and/or those of their partners -- into appliances. Increasingly, data warehouse/BI appliances will be tailored, packaged, and priced for many market segments and deployment scenarios.
  • BI goes collaborative. In 2008 and beyond, we expect to see the BI, collaboration, and knowledge management segments converge. Likewise, we expect to see such interactive Web 2.0 technologies as AJAX, blogs, wikis, and social networking revolutionize the BI experience.

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