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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

Yep - that is the big news for today - IBM announced that it is acquiring Ascential Software for a cool $1.1.billion! I don't know about you but I sure didn't see this one coming but probably should have...

The industry analysts are praising IBM's astuteness for this proposed acquistion. No less than Business Week today stated "IBM is proving once again that few can match its acumen for big acquisitions."

According to most press reports, Ascential made an ideal IBM acquisition target. It has around 900 employees, and revenues last year of $271.9 million, up 46% from the year before. Furthermore, IBM has been a reseller of Ascential's technology for about as long as it has been on the market. In fact, the two companies have 550 joint customers, and IBM has accounted for about 10% of Ascential's revenue last year.

Such familiarity can mean a great deal in the software industry, where we have seen many a merger / acquisition "marriage" causing a culture clash and difficult integration. HP and Compaq come to my mind.

Ascential has certainly had an interesting history. Pardon me if I get some of this out of order but here is the gist of their history:

-- First it was VMark. Then it became Ardent Software and it was only an ETL vendor.
-- Informix acquired them and they became a subdivision of that company.
-- Next, IBM bought the Informix and Redbrick assets for $1 billion, leaving the ETL business alone which became Ascential Software. The newly named company also had a fat bank account (approximately $800 million by the end of the deal) with which to go shopping.
-- And shopping they did go. Ascential acquired, in short order, Vality for its data cleansing capabilities, Torrent for its parallel processing infrastructure, Prism Solutions for its mainframe connectivy capability, and probably a few other companies that I can't remember.

Now it seems IBM wanted the whole enchilada.

What this means for our industry remains to be seen but I would keep an eye on Informatica, the largest remainig independent ETL vendor, as a probable acquisition target soon.

Posted March 14, 2005 1:30 AM
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Microsoft announced today that it is buying a small, Beverly, MA-based, company named Groove Networks. The company makes collaborative software which Microsoft plans to incorporate into their Office product line. Normally this kind of announcement would be somewhat interesting but it gets VERY interesting if you read on...

The really sensational part of the announcement was about Ray Ozzie, Groove Network's founder and the visionary/creator of Lotus Notes. Microsoft announced today that Mr. Ozzie will become Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for Microsoft reporting directly to Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates himself.

Ray Ozzie is certainly not a new entity to Microsoft - he was named "Windows Pioneer" long before he founded Groove for his work on teh Windows Platform. And when he founded Groove in 1997, Microsoft was a prominent investor in the company. According to one Microsoft insider, "For Bill it's always been about Ray." Bill Gates has been known to refer to Mr. Ozzie as the best programmer on the planet. High praise, indeed.

David Via, CEO of Wolcott Systems Group - a solutions provider located in Fairlawn, Ohio - states "It's a huge coup for Microsoft. Ray [Ozzie] is one of the most respected figures in the industry. It could be to Groove what IBM's acquisition of Lotus was back in '95, a huge accelerator."

Groove makes tools and software that allow virtual workers (geographically dispersed, if you will) to collaborate over the Internet. The company's Virtual Office allows workers to securely share files, project plans, calendars, even photos over thr Internet. Seems like a natural for the creator of Lotus Notes to push the document management / collaboration arena even further toward a truly ad hoc environment.

Posted March 10, 2005 3:49 PM
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What do you think of e-retailers? Do you like them? Do you prefer them over their brick and mortar counterparts? Apparently the answer is still yes but it is not as resounding a yes as it has been in previous years...

The results from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) are in and for the first time in the four years of gathering these percentages, the big e-retailers like Amazon.com, eBay and even Charles Schwab online had significant declines in overall customer satisfaction scores. Granted, they still beat the pants (and socks, shirts, hats, gloves) off their offline retail counterparts but still -- not a good sign for them.

Our economy is heavily dependent on consumers spending increasingly from year to year so the drop in customer satisfaction is quite disturbing. Why? Because it is a herald of negative financial results. Professor Claes Fornell from the University of Michigan has monitored the ACSI and a company's stock price for years and has determined that these two are strongly related. When customer satisfaction with a company drops, you can bet that a decrease in the company's stock will not be far behind and vice versa.

The question is why did customer satisfaction drop at this time? The professor puts forth two suggested reasons. The largest contributor, he says, is the price of gasoline -- which seems odd to me. He has a graph in his report showing a direct and immediate correlation between gas price changes and customer satisfaction - in opposite directions - gas price up, customer satisfaction down. Maybe we just get grumpy when we have to pay more to drive to the malls to shop...

The second reason for the decreasing customer satisfaction makes more sense -- bigger problems with servicing a growing customer population. Because retailers in general launched massive campaigns, heavily discounted items, and hopefully used their well-known BI analytics to target customers better (ahem), they drew in more buyers during this past holiday season. Unfortunately, because of the cost cutting they also did, many of these customers did not receive the attention or level of service they expected. More crowding, slower service, more out of stock situations - all contributed to the lower scores. Nothing makes my day like higher gas prices and surly clerks. How aobut you?

Posted February 21, 2005 3:12 PM
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Not all of the BI vendors have reported their financial situations for 2004 but, from the ones that have, it appears that they are entering 2005 with significant wind in their sails. Examples include the following BI Vendors:

Business Objects has reported $925.6 million for 2004 which is 65 percent higher than sales in 2003.

SAS reports a $1.5 billion year - a 15 % increase over 2003

The story continues with other high-flying companies:

MicroStrategy surprised the Wall Street folks by declaring a 39 percent uptick in sales growth for fourth quarter report. Ascential Software and Informatica reported an increase of 21 percent and 7 percent increase respecitively for fourth quarter 2004 over 2003 revenues. And finally, Hyperion's sales grew by 13 percent in its last quarter.

And on it goes.

In addition to these rosy financial reports, Forrester Research conducted a survey of 1,368 technology decision makers (CIOs and others) in North America and Europe and found that they plan to increase their IT spending by 3.9 percent overall and they were quite optimistic about their 2005 business outlook. Another good sign from the survey was that IT buyers are no longer so worried that their vendors were going out of business. TWhen the economy took a nosedive, many IT executives feared that vendors might not be around in six months because of the number of company failures. Now it appears that the vendors can make a profit and stay around.

So, the good news for BI vendors, according to the survey?

Business intelligence is still a top concern in the minds of CIOs. Concerns about regulatory compliance and the massive increase in quantity of data means BI still has one of the top spots at 9% of planned purchases. This bodes well for the entire BI industry, not just for the software vendors.

Posted February 10, 2005 2:30 PM
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Welcome to my first blog entry for the B-EYE-NETWORK. It seems a shame to start this off with the news of the resignation of one of the more colorful executives in the technology world but here goes...

Hewlett Parkard (HP) announced today the resignation of its controversial CEO and Chairman, Carly Fiorina. While the board stated that it is firmly committed to HP's business strategy, it is also widely believed that this very strategy was what caused the rub between the board and Fiorina.

Analysts today state that HP, under Fiorina, lacked direction and that the company's core business or mission was difficult to determine. Harsh criticism indeed.

At the center of the resignation is the highly disputed $19 billion Compaq acquisition in 2002 which Ms. Fiorina staked her career and reputation. HP's server, storage and PC businesses have all struggled to be profitable since the merger fueling the overall disgruntlement with Ms. Fiorina, her "imperious" leadership style, and HP's overall profitability.

There seems to be little doubt that her departure will have an impact throughout the industry -- from HP's overall strategy, the possible break up of its core business divisions, even to the role of women in leadership roles in large corporations. Whether you see this as a good move for HP or a disastrous decision by the board, her departure marks the end to a Silicon Valley icon. She certainly kept HP front and center in the press and in our minds with her every move. (By the way, HP shares rose as much as 10 percent and were up 6 percent in afternoon trading.)

I welcome your comments regarding Carly Fiorina's departure, the future of HP, and this entry.

Posted February 9, 2005 12:19 PM
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