Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Business Intelligence Chronicles Part 12 :BI - "Head in the clouds but feet firmly planted on the ground"

A few weeks ago I wrote about emerging trends in Business Intelligence (The Business Intelligence Chronicles Part 8: Star Trek returns.... ). Today I am in the mood to do some crystal ball gazing again and share some random musings :

  1. Last couple of years saw several big time players enhancing their share and leverage in the BI arena through strategic mergers & acquisitions : IBM-Cognos, SAP-Business Objects, Oracle-Hyperion. I think by the end of this year the big names will complete their "digestion" of these entities and will make them shed their old monikers. Some may say that the goodwill of names like Cognos, Hyperion etc is too big to be easily written of and the big players will balk from doing that. On the contrary,I think that a company like IBM gains more overall by having a single integrated "Business Intelligence Suite" under it's own name rather than retaining the Cognos name and creating confusion and competition with it's own other BI offerings. Similarly the case with the other players. So this may be the last year for die hard fans to order their Cognos Coffee Mugs or Hyperion T-shirts. They may be the collectibles of the future.
  2. I had written "The current and evolving paradigm of user-technology interface can be defined by a single word : "Google". That was before I saw "Wolfram" . "Computational Knowledge Engine" is how it is described. The front end is not very pretty but I was impressed by what it does. Typing in :China, US in a routine search engine like Google will give you links to millions of web articles where these 2 words appear. On the other hand Wolfram will deliver an output which compares China and US on various attributes : Name, Location, Flags, Demographics, Economic Indices etc. Type in the name of 2 companies : IBM, Oracle and it will compare the 2 companies for several parameters -Latest trades, Fundamentals and Financials, Recent Returns, Relative Price History etc. Pretty Cool. An "Intelligent" Search Engine. I am sure the smart guys at Google would be cooking up something similar in their Labs.
  3. Staying on Google, I think that it may not be long before they enter the BI arena. They know how to manage huge volumes of data, run server farms and manage an analytics front end , currently primarily used to present information related to blogs/website statistics but can easily be modified as a front-end for business related information.
  4. There was a time when we had BI Tools, then vendors started branding them as Applications. These days several vendors are offering BI Appliances. Following the trend to it's logical conclusion, I would think that very soon we may see BI Machines or BI Engines. Or better still combining BI capabilities with Cloud computing, one may see the emergence of "BI Clouds" . BI will then live up to the classic proverb “It may have it's head in the clouds, but has it's feet well set on the ground.”

Let's see how many of these predictions pan out. If they do, remember where you read about them first !!

Are you ready with some of your own tea leaves readings ? please share......


MaryATo said...

What I'm seeing is that the "big 3" (IBM/Cognos, Oracle/Hyperion/Siebel, SAP/BO) are actually using different strategies. Of the strategies SAP/BO is, IMHO, the most troublesome in that they are failing to provide price advantages to their existing SAP customers that would make conversion to BO attractive. I'm hearing that SAP assumes that its customers have plenty of money to spend and are willing to follow SAP's recommendations, but that may be incorrect in this economy and therefore perceived as arrogant.

I know at least one company that has no current official BI platform, but has been using SAP/BW. They are leaning very strongly to Cognos, because BO under SAP was too expensive with no functionality to make it more attractive than Cognos.

Oracle is trying to create an image of complete merger, hiding the old trademark Hyperion and Siebel names under OBIEE as if it were actually well integrated (not yet, anyway).

IBM is more willing to retain the identity of the purchased companies; this strategy is in line with their practices in the past. They won't absorb purchased technology under the IBM name until they've done some real integration work. For example, after all of these years Lotus Notes is still Lotus Notes. If you look deeply into IBM Websphere Portal you will see Lotus/Domino technology built in, but it's very well integrated into Websphere.

Google, cloud computing, appliances, etc., will certainly all become attractive during the coming years.

Data integration, data governance, data architecture information/data services, metadata, etc., will continue to be the REAL issues in BI/data warehousing, etc. I believe that the front ends and middle tier will, indeed, become more competitive, with many new options also including columnar architectures and in-memory analytics.

I'm a fan of IBM right now, because they are focusing on professional services and data services integration, and they are increasingly software and hardware platform agnostic. They will bring down their software prices and go more and more strongly into the cloud over time. Very big heavy hardware does support cloud computing quite well, so it's natural to them.

That doesn't mean I think that IBM will "win". Unfortunately/fortunately for them they DON'T own much application software (ERP's, etc.), and SAP and Oracle will continue to push their customers to stay with "one vendor". Some companies will find that attractive.

SUMMARY: I believe that the best strategy is for companies to focus on data integration services, because they and they alone "know" their unique set of data sources. Front ends and middle tiers should be flexible and companies should purchase them using "best-of-breed" evaluations based on their requirements.

Anonymous said...

Partially true. SAP has successfully burried the old Outlooksoft name and labled it Business Planning and Consolidation BPC.

Deepak Seth said...


Excellent insights. I think IBM will eventually make "Cognos" as a brand disappear. On can see that happening on the branding, sebsite etc. It will become part of the IBM "single integrated platform".

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