Blog: Claudia Imhoff Subscribe to this blog's RSS feed!

Claudia Imhoff

Welcome to my blog.

This is another means for me to communicate, educate and participate within the Business Intelligence industry. It is a perfect forum for airing opinions, thoughts, vendor and client updates, problems and questions. To maximize the blog's value, it must be a participative venue. This means I will look forward to hearing from you often, since your input is vital to the blog's success. All I ask is that you treat me, the blog, and everyone who uses it with respect.

So...check it out every week to see what is new and exciting in our ever changing BI world.

About the author >

A thought leader, visionary, and practitioner, Claudia Imhoff, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized expert on analytics, business intelligence, and the architectures to support these initiatives. Dr. Imhoff has co-authored five books on these subjects and writes articles (totaling more than 150) for technical and business magazines.

She is also the Founder of the Boulder BI Brain Trust, a consortium of independent analysts and consultants (www.BBBT.us). You can follow them on Twitter at #BBBT

Editor's Note:
More articles and resources are available in Claudia's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

Recently in Business News Category

Last year was a banner year for software acquisitions with an astounding 1,726 software companies being gobbled up by their bigger brethren. The reasons for the acquisitions seem to fall into two categories -- the acquiring company's desire for growth or new market opportunities. But are these acquisitions good for the software industry?

It seems we are getting down to the "Final Four" -- Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, and SAP -- maybe five if you include HP. These companies have been on a shopping spree like you wouldn't believe. Here are some numbers for you:

Oracle has bought 26 companies including the mega-deals for Siebel, PeopleSoft and Retek.

Microsoft gets second prize with 25 acquisitions in the same time including ProClarity and many other little startups that didn't hit the radar.

And then there is IBM with 22 acquired companies including Ascential, FileNet, and Internet Security Systems...

Apparently, software acquisitions dominate all technology sectors by accounting for 40% of the nearly $300 BILLION (yikes!) spent on M & A activities performed last year. There is significant reason to be concerned but also equal reason to celebrate. A recent article in InformationWeek listed the pros and cons of these voracious acquirers:

On the plus side:

1. A small vendors's new owner may invest more in R&D than the smaller company could do
2. The acquirer may give you access to a larger, more knowledgable support team.
3. Certainly acquisition by a deep pockets company can put a struggling software vendor on more solid ground -- financially-speaking -- and allow it to scale its architecture.
4. Large software companies have shifted their focus back to revenue-growth strategies so they are buying companies that either complement their own set or give them access to new areas. Big companies are stretching their winds, metaphorically.

On the negative side:

1. The acquiring company could put a halt to the innovation that you have come to rely on and simply continue to feed off the maintenance fees as long as you are willing to pay them.
2. The acquiring company may take the acquired software in a completely different direction -- one that no longer supports yours.
3. Of course, the 900 pound gorilla is the whole issue of the software's integration with the other bits and pieces of the acquiring company.
4. What about customer support? These are the folks that are often the first to go from the acquired company leaving a customer to feel unloved.

So is it good or bad? And who are the next acquisition targets?

To the good or bad question --

The article notes that it is certainly easier for IT shops to deal with fewer vendors. I admit it is easier to deal with a single vendor than a hundred little vendors. The mandate for many IT shops to run lean and mean has not substantially changed in recent years and working with fewer vendors means spending less time and money managing the relationship. On the other hand, that means the vendor has a lot of leverage regarding license fees, maintenance contract negotiations, etc., over you. If you are Charles Wang (remember him?), you love this model...

It may be good news for small companies who have struggled to get their technologies in the door of major corporations. Many CIOs and IT shops are loathe to stick their necks for new, "unproven" software companies even if their technologies are brilliant. Coming in under the name of a much larger and well-known company just seems to open doors magically. However, IMHO, I must say that I feel this is ultimately detrimental to innovation. CIOs need to take more risks, "show some guts", and stop playing it so safe. (See a related InformationWeek article on this very topic by clicking here. I may talk about their survey in another blog.) CIOs need to look at the needs of the company and determine what is the best solution regardless of software company size. Fortunately the venture capital folks must feel the same way since their investing is on the rise.

Perhaps a bright spot in the innovation landscape is the software-as-a-service (SaaS) area. SAP is certainly betting heavily on innovation coming from its SaaS partners with its NetWeaver and SOA stance. In case you are not familiar with the model, the idea is for SAP to partner with many smaller vendors whose software services are called by MySAP (SAP's new ERP suite). Bill McDermott (CEO of SAP Americas) has a priceless quote regarding this strategy. He states that the acquisition roadmap followed by their arch-competitor, Oracle, is like "a lung-and-heart transplant where ours is plug and play". My,my...

I guess time will tell. Until then, small software companies, look out. If you are leading the pack with your offerings, you better turn around now and then to see whose about to gobble you up!

So who is likely to be a candidate for acquisition in the BI space? My bets are on:

1. Teradata -- with NCR's recent decision to spin off Teradata, a suitor cannot be far behind (Microsoft or SAP, perhaps?) to gobble up Teradata. (By the way, this also makes NCR a target as well).
2. The data warehouse appliance vendors -- Netezza, DATAllegro, GreenPlum, and the newest entrant, InfoBright. Their time has come as well.

So who do you see next on the block? I'll be interested to hear...

Yours in BI success,

Claudia

Technorati Tags: software acquisition, software consolidation, Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, SAP, software innovation


Posted January 30, 2007 10:58 AM
Permalink | 1 Comment |

I want Steve Jobs job. He gets to introduce cool new techno-toys to adoring fans at MacWorld. The latest wizardry from the iconoclastic Apple? The iPhone...

Yes, indeed. The long awaited iPhone was introduced today. Well sort of -- the actual iPhone won't be available until this summer but still -- it was a great day for technogeeks.

Here are a few of its features:

The phone is one big rectangular touch screen. All of its functions are activated by touch, but here's the cool factor. When you bring your iPhone close to your face to talk to someone, a proximity sensor will turn off the touch screen so you don't accidentally "face dial". I need something like this for my TV remote -- our cat walks all over it, changing everything...

According to the Apple website, the iPhone is a "phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and a breakthrough Internet communications device with desktop-class email, web browsing, maps, and searching." The phone runs the Mac OS X naturally and will also be able to download and play both music and movies - duh -- It's an iPod as well. But its main function, according to Jobs, will be as a phone. Despite all the other bells and whistles, Jobs said the "killer app is making calls." The iPhone will operate on the GSM protocol, but won't have third-generation broadband initially. Never fear -- Jobs promises that 3G capability is coming soon.

The real winner today (besides Apple stockholders -- the stock rose $7.10) is Cingular Wireless. Cingular will be Apple's sole U.S. partner -- you got it -- an exclusive multiyear agreement. Ouch... No other carrier will be able to sell the iPhone through 2009. Happy trails to Cingular!

Now the not-so-good news -- the price tag. There will be 2 models -- a $500 version with 4 gigabytes of memory and a $600 one with 8 gigabytes. OK -- guess I'll wait a bit until the price comes down -- say 2010?

Oh yeah -- one other little tidbit. Apple doesn't own the name iPhone -- Cisco Systems does but probably not for long. The Cisco spokesperson said in a statement obtained by CNN, "Given Apple's numerous requests for permission to use Cisco's iPhone trademark over the past several years and our extensive discussions with them recently, it is our belief that with their announcement today Apple intends to agree to the final documents and public statement that were distributed to them last night and addressed a few remaining items. We expect to receive a signed agreement today."

So, what's your take on this news? Are you already lining up at the Cingular store or will you play "wait and see"? I await your comments.

Yours in BI and cell phone success.

Claudia

Technorati Tags: Apple, iPhone, MacWorld


Posted January 9, 2007 3:51 PM
Permalink | 1 Comment |

Bill Gates announced yesterday that he will step down as Microsoft's Chief Software Architect in July 2008. His mighty big shoes will be filled by Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's current CTO. Sadly it will be the end of an era. Read on to see what's next for the richest man in the world.

Mr. Gates will relinquish his day-to-day role at Microsoft to put his considerable talents into the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He states, "With considerable wealth comes great responsibility. Many years ago I made it clear that almost all my wealth would be returned to society". Ah, if only other super-wealthy individuals had his philanthropic leanings -- the world would indeed be a better place.

So what will he do? Mr. Gates will be working side by side with his wife, Melinda, on medical and public health issues -- something the Foundation has always invested in. The Foundation has $29 billion (that billion with a B!) in assets and has been instrumental in fighting AIDS and malaria in Africa since its inception in 2000. Here is a snippet from the Foundation's web site... "Bill and Melinda Gates believe every life has equal value. In 2000, they created the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help reduce inequities in the United States and around the world. There are two simple values that lie at the core of the foundation’s work:

All lives—no matter where they are being led—have equal value.
To whom much has been given, much is expected."

Where does their money go? Here are just a few of the more recent grants:

Jun 6, 2006 CIDA Foundation
$1,499,673 over 3 years to provide a low-cost Bachelor of Business Administration degree to disadvantaged South African students

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

May 24, 2006 Living Cities Inc. The National Community Development Initiative
$2,000,000 over 18 months to support community development

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

May 24, 2006 Shorebank Enterprise Group Pacific
$3,300,000 over 1 year to support a septic loan program to benefit low-income people in the Hood Canal watershed area

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

May 23, 2006 Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH)
$27,844,078 over 5 years to strengthen the capability of developing countries to reduce cervical cancer incidence and deaths.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

May 4, 2006 NewSchools Venture Fund
$29,640,000.00 over 41 months to support work with charter management organizations, and extend the model of scalable high quality schools through the development of hybrid organizations

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And on it goes.

So what will happen back on the farm? As mentioned, Ray Ozzie gets Mr. Gates' old title, Craig Mundie becomes the Chief Research and Strategy Officer -- both will start reporting to Steve Ballmer (whose job title does not change) in 2008. Certainly Microsoft is seeing turbulent waters with the delayed Vista project, competitors on all fronts, open source in-roads, and so on. We will all be keeping a close eye on Microsoft's future with the major driver moving onto other pastures...

Yours in BI Success,

Claudia


Posted June 16, 2006 1:29 PM
Permalink | 1 Comment |

Seems that Carly Fiorina just has a way of attracting an audience no matter what she does. Now 16 months after being fired by HP, she manages to make the headlines one more time -- This time with a book. Read on to get some snippets from her memoir, titled "Tough Choices"...

According to the Business Week article, she started her speech by stating "I'm now an author and did in fact write every word of this book". That may sounds strange but there are many, many "tell all" books supposedly written by famous people that are ghost written by unsung writers. Refreshing that she writes her own stuff.

Her stated purpose for the book? First to demystify business -- to show "how people actually behave, and how a leader can change people's results". Un huh... And second, she wanted to "present a more authentic portrait of herself". Un huh again... Apparently she is not happy with the way the press has described her in the past. Now she has her chance.

So -- what does she have to say? She seemed to claim credit -- at least partially -- for HP's current health by saying that she made the company take the necessary risks to develop a clearer focus on HP's value to its customers. Certainly HP has demonstrated a healthy net income (up 51%) and sales increase for second quarter 2006 (up 4.6%) but it would be nearly impossible to dissect the reasons for the increases -- and especially difficult to lay the credit at actions she took while CEO. But her claim that "We made the necessary changes" would indicate who she thinks is responsible. Perhaps she has been greatly maligned in the press and does deserve at least some of the credit, perhaps not. I certainly can't answer that question. (I welcome your comments on this.)

So what else is in her memoir? Apparently she spends a fair bit of time discussion the challenges that women face in climbing the corporate ladder -- like business lunches arranged by male cohorts at strip clubs... Yeah -- that would make it a bit uncomfortable, seems like, to discuss sales and marketing directions and not just for a young Carly Fiorina...

But the big question revolves around how much does she air dirty laundry at HP. Does she bash her former colleagues? Does she expose the inner workings that spelled her demise there? She gave no indication other than to say that the book spent an appropriate amount of time (percentage-wise) to her life there. According to her, "I didn't write it to settle scores. I have something to say, not something to prove". But she also added that some of her stories "may be difficult for some people to read"....

Hmmm -- I guess we will just have to wait until October, the proposed date of its debut to find out. So -- will you be chomping at the bit to buy the book or will you refuse to add to her sales coffers? Let me know.

As always -- yours in BI success.

Claudia


Posted June 12, 2006 9:36 AM
Permalink | 2 Comments |

Look out Red Hat -- it appears that Mr. Ellison, Oracle's rock star CEO, may be looking to embed a Linux product into Oracle. Is this good or bad? And who is it good or bad for? According to Matt McKenzie. Editor, Linux Pipeline, a newsletter that I subscribe:

"... this isn't "coopetition," or anything else you can describe with a cutesy moniker -- this is the IT industry's second-richest, and perhaps most ruthless, executive deciding how best to rub out a source of persistent irritation. Assuming Ellison pays attention to his grudge du jour long enough to follow through on his ruminations, the enterprise Linux market a year from now will consist of Oracle -- and three grease spots where Novell, Red Hat, and JBoss were last seen."

Ouch!

Yes, Mr. Ellison does have pretty good reasons for embedding a version of Linux into Oracle's existing software. It all has to do with who owns the stack. And Mr. Ellison wants nothing if not to own the entire stack (based on Linux) and put Microsoft right out of business. IMHO -- that will take some doing. It is certainly no secret that Oracle has been pushing Linux for some time. Why? Well, it does give Oracle users using Microsoft's operating system and applications an alternative stack. Can you see Mr. Ellison drooling yet?

Apparently the acquisition-happy CEO has been casting his eye around to see who he could gobble up to supply the missing pieces in the stack. According to an interview with Financial Times, he has considered purchasing Novell as a quick way to get Oracle's own Linux.

What does this mean to Red Hat? Well, it is not good news, that is for sure. If Oracle does purchase Novell, life becomes suddenly much more difficult for Red Hat – particularly if, as Mr. Ellison stated in the FT article, IBM decided to follow suit - which it most certainly would.

So -- why wouldn't Oracle just buy up Red Hat? According to the man himself in the article: "I don't see how we could possibly buy Red Hat... I'm not going to spend $5 billion, or $6 billion, for something that can just be so completely wiped off the map".

Mr Ellison states that there are two reasons for not buying Red Hat or Novell. The first one (probably the most important one) is price. Apparently open source companies have finally made it into the big league with their price tags. Red Hat’s purchase of JBoss last week was a bit of an eye-opener. By the way, JBoss was a company that Oracle had itself tried to buy.

Mr. Ellison goes on to say in the FT article, “If an open source product gets good enough, we’ll simply take it,” he said. “We can do that, IBM can do that, HP can do that – anyone with a large support organization is free to take that intellectual property and embed it in their own products. You can build a sustainable business [in open source], you just can’t charge a lot for it. There’s brand value – there’s real brand – there’s people, and that’s it." Well, there you have it...

The second reason for not buying a Linux company, according to Mr Ellison, is also quite likely. He believes that as soon as one big company buys a Linux company, all the other big technology vendors would abandon it. “I don’t see how we could possibly buy Red Hat – IBM would just say, ‘Larry, congratulations, we’re going our own way’,” he said.

According to Lisa Vaas, another of my favorite writers, "Novell is too expensive as well. Why pay billions for Novell SUSE Linux when there are much cheaper and more deployed Linux distributions out there, with robust communities in place, to be had for probably what would amount to a few million? Ellison is likely telling us he doesn't have to buy a company with a huge existing open-source presence."

Ari Kaplan, president of the IOUG, stated in a recent conversation with Lisa that Oracle can be trusted not to lock anybody into an Oracle-only setup. "Based on recent history, you can still run PeopleSoft on IBM or other databases," he said.

Ah, I love naivety...

Yours in BI Success,

Claudia


Posted April 20, 2006 12:20 PM
Permalink | 1 Comment |

   VISIT MY EXPERT CHANNEL

Search this blog
Categories ›
Archives ›
Recent Entries ›