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Dan Power

Greetings to all of my friends who work in the area of computerized decision support. This blog is a way for me to share stories from my encounters related to decision support, to comment on industry events, and to comment on other blogger's comments, especially those of my friends on the Business Intelligence Network. I'll try to state my opinions clearly and provide an old professor's perspective on how computers and information technology are changing the world. Decision making has always been my focus, and it will be in this blog as well. Your comments, feedback and questions are welcomed.

About the author >

Daniel J. "Dan" Power is a Professor of Information Systems and Management at the College of Business Administration at the University of Northern Iowa and the editor of DSSResources.com, the Web-based knowledge repository about computerized systems that support decision making; the editor of PlanningSkills.com; and the editor of DSS News, a bi-weekly e-newsletter. Dr. Power's research interests include the design and development of decision support systems and how these systems impact individual and organizational decision behavior.

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

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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