The cover story for the April 14, 2008 InformationWeek focused on business intelligence. The article titled "Then There Were Four" is by Mary Hayes Weier (pps. 33-41). The overriding question of the article is: "Are the big 4 making BI better?" She never really answers the question. My answer is MAYBE.
According to Weier, "IBM, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft account for about half of the $7billion business intelligence market. All four are pitching enterprise-wide BI platforms, each with its own twist. Here's what you need to know to choose." She then provides a comprehensive analysis of the the recent BI acquisition history, the challenges facing each company to integrate diverse product lines and what she sees as the strategies each of the big 4 is following and who might win. Overall, I found the article a useful, quick read. Nothing earth shattering, but reasonably helpful to an IT person trying to sort out the business intelligence market place.
My take on what is happening is:
1) IBM wants to move beyond infrastructure and provide more comprehensive application integration services. Cognos is a good fit with the strategy.
2) SAP wants to focus on operational business intelligence. It has too many products developed in-house and acquired. The BI tools are in disarray. Business Objects is a good partner, but there are and will be major problems.
3) Oracle emphasizes its database product. Business Objects would have been a better acquisition for Oracle than Hyperion, but the deeds are done. Oracle may need to look seriously at acquiring Microstrategy to get a frontend application development tool. Integrating the Oracle stack to create enterprise-wide BI is still a problem. What kind of BI does Oracle want to provide? I don't know. Oracle needs to sort out its applications, operational performance monitoring, special studies, scorecards, financial analysis, budgeting, etc. Oracle needs a clearer vision of data-driven decision support.
4) Microsoft is getting much stronger. I always liked the ProClarity people and product. SQL Server 2008 is the key to greater penetration by Microsoft in the enterprise BI application domain. I still like Excel even though I am concerned about moving away from Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). If Microsoft figures out that competing with Google "head on" in search is no win, then perhaps Microsoft will make a real commitment to enterprise-wide data-driven decision support and get it right.
Check the article at: http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2008/04/14/3385297.htm .
Posted April 27, 2008 9:23 AM
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