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Updated Oracle BI tool takes aim at self-service market

Updated self-service analytics tools from Oracle are intended to go head-to-head with the successful primary players already in that space, including Tableau and Qlik.

Oracle has announced a major update to its business intelligence platform, BI 12c, which the company hopes will reestablish it as a player in the self-service and data visualization market. Recent upstarts have come to dominate that field.

The update to the Oracle BI tool revamps the user experience. Company executives say this change puts it in line with modern data visualization tools. For example, it allows users to search data stores using natural language. The software can then automatically organize the data into a visualization. The update also comes with pre-built, advanced analytics functions like time series, trend and cluster analyses, and is retooled to run more efficiently on in-memory databases.

The new software can sit on top of a traditional Oracle stack, either on premises or in the cloud, but it also supports other use cases. It can take data from Salesforce implementations, Hadoop clusters and even simple spreadsheets, for example. A big part of Oracle's pitch is that these features come with support for enterprise-scale software implementations.

Hari Sankar, group vice president for business analytics at Oracle, said he expects most users of 12c to be existing Oracle BI customers who will upgrade. But he said Oracle is targeting new customers who may be using another tool.

He said over the last few years a number of businesses that currently use Oracle for data warehousing and other back-end systems have gravitated to self-service analytics tools, such as Tableau Software and QlikTech International AB, for their front-end data exploration and reporting needs. This is particularly true within lines of business, in which individual departments have implemented data visualization and self-service analytics tool on their own. One goal of the new release is to recapture these users by offering them software with similar functionality but that operates within a broader IT strategy. 

Of course, Tableau and Qlik have worked for years to improve data governance and support enterprise scalability. But Oracle hopes organizations, particularly their IT departments, will be convinced by the prospect of integrating their entire data stack and getting all departments on the same tool.

The release became generally available on November 12.

Ed Burns is site editor of SearchBusinessAnalytics. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter: @EdBurnsTT.

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