Companies finally seem to be getting the message that business intelligence (BI) programs are not a purely IT-driven project.
According to Dresner Advisory Services LLC’s recently published 2011 Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study, worldwide, line of business and IT are now about even when it comes to deploying BI.
“Users have a far more substantial role in selecting and deploying technology than ever before,” said Howard Dresner, president and founder of Dresner Advisory Services and a former Gartner analyst.
Dresner calls this finding “one of the most interesting and provocative” to come out of the market survey results. The survey received more than 600 responses from IT and BI professionals regarding vendor and product rankings, current trends and BI spending plans. The firm flagged and tossed an additional 10% of responses as coming from questionable sources, such as vendors.
How one trend fuels another
This shift in BI deployments is even more apparent when isolating survey responses from North America, where line of business has surpassed IT -- both for smaller organizations with limited IT and larger organizations, where user deployments may occur without IT’s knowledge. And, Dresner said, the trend is likely to continue.
“This is about disintermediation,” Dresner said. “Most of the emerging vendors are not targeting IT.”
In other words, the perception among users of BI software -- in North America and even among the Europe and Middle Eastern markets -- is that IT departments aren’t meeting their needs quickly enough, and so they’re taking matters into their own hands. That, in turn, is fueling another trend these days.
“There’s a huge demand for services, primarily from software vendors themselves and, secondarily, from third parties,” Dresner said.
Even among organizations with well-defined IT departments, end users are securing services from third parties to get things done more quickly, he added.
Speed appears to be the primary motivator behind this behavior, but as users continue to deploy BI projects without IT’s knowledge, they also are at risk of perpetuating a fundamental concern that has plagued businesses for years.
“This suggests there’s an overall expansion of BI, which for the market is a good thing,” Dresner said. “However, there’s more stovepipes like the ones we’ve been fighting for the past few decades [creating] more disparate views of the business. In a perfect world, everyone would be using a common infrastructure, but that’s not what’s happening.”
One way to avoid this “classic problem,” Dresner said, is to establish or rely on business intelligence competency centers (BICCs). The centers, made up of company employees, are created to drive consistency into the BI space across an organization.
BI software vendor rankings
Dresner Advisory Services also ranked 16 BI software vendors using an evaluative tool composed of 32 different metrics. Those metrics included acquisition experiences, cost, the quality of the software itself, tech support and whether the firm would recommend the vendor. Ranked vendors are divided into four categories: Titans, or the largest and most established group; Established Pure-Play; Emerging; and, for the first time, Open Source.
“Open source has a strong following in certain areas,” Dresner said, such as government and technology. “Organizations do seem open to it, but I wouldn’t say that it’s mainstream.”
The survey rankings include only three open source technology vendors, because as a rule, a vendor needs to accumulate enough of a critical mass -- or at least 20 customer evaluations -- to be graded. Actuate came out on top in this category.
In addition to the technology and government markets, organizations employing between one and 1,000 people preferred vendors and products from the Open Source category. Smaller companies also appeared to favor the Emerging category, where Tableau came out ahead.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, organizations with more than 10,000 employees purchased Titan products and also preferred Established Pure-Play vendors. Oracle was the top Titan, and Information Builders finished first in the Pure-Play category.
But, Dresner said, one of the common threads observed across vendor categories is the push of in-memory technology, which is intended to quickly crunch through and analyze larger sets of data.
“It’s not new technology that was just invented,” Dresner said, “but it’s a technology that’s becoming more mainstreamed and incorporated into more products.”
Dresner believes this is a positive trend.
“Anything that makes things faster and allows for the analysis of more data is a good thing from my perspective,” he said.
But he also has his misgivings.
“It’s sort of like the wild, wild West right now,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of standards around these things.”
And while some things change, some things stay the same -- at least in terms of spending.
“There’s clear growth in spending,” he said, referring to budgetary questions that asked where respondents were planning to deploy funds. “Some will invest in Software as a Service, some in open source, but the lion’s share will go to traditional software.”