Last week I attended TDWI in San Diego. ¬†Because I attend these conferences fairly regularly, I normally try to get to some classes or at least sit in on one or both of the keynote presentations. ¬†Unfortunately, this time around, I had to forego the classes due to my scheduled briefings with exhibiting vendors, so I don’t have great insights into the role of agile BI and its adoption based on customer case studies and expert testimony.
However, I did get an interesting look at how the BI industry is slightly changing and becoming more agile due to vendor offerings and enhancements to current solutions available within the market. Sometimes, I come away from TDWI with limited insights into how solution providers are building their product offerings to meet the business needs of organizations. ¬†In many cases, because of the data centric nature of these solutions and with BI or DW in general, there seems to be a disconnect between the business pains being experienced and the way in which vendors sell the value proposition of their solutions. This time, however, I was pleasantly surprised.
Dealing with small and mid-sized businesses means that I am constantly looking for offerings that provide quick time to value without the long term or heavy implementation requirements of a traditional BI solution. ¬†Up until recently, there weren’t many solutions that I could recommend with certainty as they still followed the premise of developing a full BI infrastructure in order to benefit from what they have to offer. Obviously, with SaaS and DW appliances, the market is slowly starting to shift, but it’s the outlook of vendors and the realization that although BI is data centric, the real value provided is information visibility and the ability to make faster and better decisions due to the increase in access to large data sets. Some vendors that seem to be meeting these challenges head on include:
- Wherescape that automates the data warehousing process and actually brought in Ted Schill, the director of business intelligence at Coinstar, to talk about their experience and the business value gained by Wherescape adoption
- 1010data with their hosted solution that takes away the need for all of the preparation (my demo later this week will clarify this point more in relation to the lack of ETL/ELT processes, data quality, etc.) and that simplifies and quickens access to complex analyses
- Dundas Data Visualization with an increasing focus on their consumer facing dashboards and collaboration – i.e. annotations/notes
- Vertica and their newer focus on identifying the business value to companies and not just overall performance benchmarks
Overall, I saw a shift in the way vendors are looking at the market. ¬†R&D is always important, but new initiatives are starting to link directly to the business value companies gain by deploying BI as opposed to just focusing on increasing the number of features and functions available.