Business intelligence vendors must differentiate themselves on agility and lrrelevance

Ovum names SAS Institute and IBM as leaders in business intelligence

Enterprises are challenged by a phenomenal increase in the volume of business data and ever-shortening timeframes in which to process and analyze it, according to Ovum. Budgetary pressures and resource constraints also mean that IT departments cannot keep up with the flood of business intelligence (BI) change requests. In addition, organizations are coming under increasing regulatory scrutiny, which shines a bright spotlight on data governance.

In Ovum’s latest Decision Matrix: Selecting a Business Intelligence Vendor*, the independent analyst firm reveals that while the need for BI continues to grow, the diversity, volume, and speed of data thrown at BI solutions have increased manifold over last year.

“To keep delivering even the same level of insights as a decade ago, BI vendors and their solutions need to be more agile and adaptive than ever. Agility must go beyond simply making existing BI infrastructures run faster. It must also encompass elements of self-service, mobility and collaboration.” says Surya Mukherjee, senior analyst at Ovum.

Given that the core BI market is fairly consolidated, the major vendors now offer a mature portfolio of products built through years of acquisitions and integrations. As a result, most vendors claim to possess similar core BI functionality. In addition, over the past year most vendors have jumped on buzzword bandwagons around Big Data, Fast Data, and mobile BI. These factors have further complicated the BI selection problem.

Ovum believes the selection challenge now warrants a longer and more detailed evaluation process of customer requirements and vendor offerings. Ovum has attempted to help customers shorten the process with its Decision Matrix (ODM), which provides direct assessments of the eight top players in the BI market and categorises them into Leaders, Challengers and Followers**. The ODM focuses on each vendor’s technical prowess in BI, and takes feedback from organizations that have used or continue to use each solution, reporting on their stated levels of satisfaction. Vendors covered in this report include IBM, Qliktech, Pentaho, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, Microstrategy, and SAS.

“The overall market appears to be recording healthy growth rates in spite of the fears of a double-dip recession in Europe and reduced investor confidence in global financial markets. A large part of this growth is driven by new license revenue and not merely maintenance and services. This reflects the expansion of BI deployments from departmental to organizational, the constant change in analytic goalposts, and continuing investment in newer analytic technologies.” comments Mukherjee.

The ODM reveals that different kinds of BI platform continue to meet diverse end-user needs, but common themes are emerging, such as the movement of BI closer to the database and the renewed focus on increasing the usage of BI in the organization.
Each of the identified leaders plays to its particular strength, while providing strong core BI and data management functionality. However, there are differences in the approach each vendor takes to the market. Mega-vendors are increasingly bundling BI as an integral part of transformational projects and putting analytics at the heart of business decisions. A few vendors are going beyond a tool based approach to BI, instead offering BI as a solution to vertical- and function-specific problems. Yet others are choosing to maintain a core focus on usability and the democratization of BI.

“As the scope and size of analytic problems continue to change, there is an increasing need for organisations to invest in a versatile BI solution that can tackle complex datasets and yet cater to both business and IT,” concludes Mukherjee.