Decoding BI Market Share Numbers – Play Sudoku With Analysts

In a recent post I discussed Oracle’s market share in BI, based on a press-published chart taken from IDC data – showing Oracle coming in second. As often happens in such discussions, I got quite a few direct emails and twitter messages – some in no uncertain terms – about why the particular metric I chose was not sufficiently nuanced or representative of the true picture. I freely admit: that’s true. In general, market observers know Oracle is not typically placed second overall – but the picture is more complex than a single ranking. My point was, and is, that it’s too easy to slip into a “who’s on top” mentality that obscures true market dynamics. In this post, I’ll dig a bit deeper, and describe what different approaches or categorizations show us – and what they don’t. Finally I’ll talk about how much this matters – and to whom. Read more of this post

Oracle’s High BI Bar: Managed, Multifaceted and Actionable

Oracle’s newest BI release is massive, spans multiple product categories, and raises the bar for competitors in dramatic fashion. In my prior post I focused on its rollout and competitive posture. The market has waited a long time as the reconciliation of many moving parts was accomplished – most notably the convergence of the Hyperion Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) offering and Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE). Hyperion integration with its Essbase acquisition was not complete. In 2007, OBI’s newest release (10.1.3) was most notable in many eyes for its new Microsoft Office support. PeopleSoft and Siebel had been acquired some two years before that, and Master Data Management was already a topic of discussion then (2005). There was a long way to go. And analysts? Well, think of us as the kids in the back: “Are we there yet?”

Oracle has used its time, and its $3B per year investment in R&D, well. OBIEE 11g delivers a strong base for its customers to build upon, and for its own teams to continue fleshing out a very coherent vision of ready-to-consume, actionable analytics suitable for multiple roles, on multiple platforms, across the breadth of information available. Although there is much left to do, Oracle has laid out a clear path and articulated a differentiated message that offers ample reasons for anyone on other platforms to consider OBIEE, whether or not they are an Oracle customer. For this analyst, the big wins are the Common Enterprise Information Model, The Action Framework, the strong manageability focus, unified and enhanced user interaction for report and other forms of design and delivery, and BI applications.

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Oracle Sets Sights on BI Leadership. Has it Picked the Right Target?

Oracle is not first in BI, and wants to change that – that was the clear message of a well executed, multi-site “real plus virtual” event with top executives showing off the result of a multi-year effort to rationalize and integrate a set of leading but overlapping components into a seamless suite. Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 11g (OBIEE) deserves the accolades it has already received from analysts who welcomed its announcement – it makes bold and serious bets on effective centralized metadata administration, data integration/ unification and optimized analytic architecture, collaboration, globalization, mobile device support, and a powerful link to action that will be most effective (unsurprisingly) with its own business applications. While it misses some pieces – fully integrated in-memory processing, SaaS and cloud support among them – these will be forthcoming, and Oracle is clearly committed to a quicker release cycle now that the thorny internal politics around legacy products seem to be resolved. But its competitive focus may be misdirected; while SAP is still ahead in market share, IBM is the bigger threat in the marketplace.

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Microsoft Plays Where’s Waldo? With BI – Good Idea

In April, I was critical of the BI messaging I heard from Microsoft – as told, it was long on benefit adjectives and short on architectural clarity. But things have changed since then, and the Combined Tech Ed/Business Intelligence Conference made that very clear. Do I see more clarity because I now know more of the detail, and have internalized my own narrative? Likely. But it would be outrageously self-centered of me to think that was all. The fact is, the story is being told better, and there is much to tell. It needs to be told well because it’s complex behind the “simple” descriptions that underlie Microsoft’s ultimate value proposition: BI should be an easily consumed, context-aware service available to everyone, not a separate offering. Microsoft is tackling the continuing grand challenge of BI – expanding usage beyond the 20% of potential users that are BI consumers today. Read more of this post

Want Broader BI Usage? Crystal Reports Founders Offer Indicee

Mark Cunningham has reunited some of the team that built Crystal Reports (now part of SAP Business Objects) and launched Indicee, a SaaS-based BI reporting play that is pointed squarely at the continuing difficulty of extending BI beyond its seemingly permanent minority usage model.

It’s commonly understood that users continue to fend for themselves manually, moving data to spreadsheets for analytic manipulation because IT is unable to respond quickly enough to their needs. Indicee tackles this by re-using existing report and spreadsheet content (not surprisingly, Crystal reports lead the source list), moving it to the cloud for data mart-based interaction, and innovating a different approach to user interaction. It’s worth a look, and a free download for trial use sweetens the deal. Read more of this post

IBM Showcases Software Vision and Hadoop Research

At IBM’s 8th annual Connect meeting with analysts, Steve Mills, Senior VP and Group Executive, had much to crow about. Software is the engine driving IBM’s profitability, anchoring its customer relationships, and enabling the vaulting ambition to drive the company’s Smarter Planet theme into the boardroom. Mills’ assets are formidable: 36 labs worldwide have more than 100 SW developers each, plus 49 more with over 20 – 25,000 developers in all. Mills showcased all this in a matter-of-fact, businesslike fashion with minimal hype and little competitor bashing. A research project aimed at extending Hadoop usage to a broader audience was among the highlights.  Read more of this post

My Best Decision Today: Skipping Larry’s Fusion Speech

It’s been a good Oracle Open World so far, unless you wanted some exciting news about Fusion Apps. All the cyberworld was a-twitter (pun intended) about that during the run-up to the event. If that’s what you wanted, sorry – the payoff couldn’t have been flatter if the Governator had run over it with one of his Hummers. (More likely his wife would have done it while illegally talking on her cell phone.) There was a great theme this year: “Come With Questions. Leave With Answers.” Yup. And the answer was: “Wait till next year.” Read more of this post

Pentaho Goes “Open Core” With Lucidera OLAP Viewer

Open-source BI vendor Pentaho has purchased technology rights from failed BI SaaS vendor LucidEra, and plans to combine LucidEra’s Clearview, a reporting and analysis OLAP front end for non-technical users, with the Mondrian open source OLAP engine used by Pentaho Analysis,  in a new offering called Pentaho Analyzer Enterprise Edition, available both on-premise and on-demand. Clearview will not be available in the free community edition of Pentaho. Existing Pentaho Analysis Enterprise Edition and Pentaho BI Suite Enterprise Edition customers will not be charged additional fees. Clearview adds substantial value to the priced portion of Pentaho’s portfolio – another example of the “open core” business model. Open core is not without its detractors, and a brief flurry of chatter erupted about it in the blogosphere. Read more of this post

Star Analytics Offers Flexible Real-time Data Integration to Hyperion Users

There are riches in the data stored inside over 5000 installed Hyperion performance management applications, and Star Analytics is committed to helping its customers exploit them more broadly. Tom Tortolani, VP of Products, sees this as Star Analytics’ great opportunity – he’s watched as the installation, maintenance and exploitation of the data in such applications has become more complex and unwieldy, even as more non-specialists clamor for access to that data.

More IT involvement for business performance applications is required all the time,” Tortolani says, “even though it’s business users driving demand. The industry needs to make it easier for them.” Read more of this post

It’s On: IBM To Acquire SPSS

With one stroke, IBM has signalled that it believes itself ready to redraw the BI map. After a multi-year, multi-billion dollar spending spree, IBM has assembled the product portfolio, marketing and sales organization, and a 4000-person services army to launch a full-scale assault. It’s a lucrative opportunity: Mary Weier at InfoWeek quotes IDC to the effect that in 2008, the total BI market grew 10.6% to $7.8 billion. But although IBM’s acquisition of Cognos made it a formidable presence, with around 10% of the total market, until now it seems to largely have been in a holding pattern. IDC says IBM’s 2008 BI revenues were $800 million, up 5% since the previous year. But key competitors  SAP and SAS, who are ahead of IBM in share, and Oracle, nipping at its heels, grew at  double-digit rates. It is time to for IBM up that ante; as strong as Cognos was, it ought to have benefited more from IBM’s muscle. And now, it’s on. Read more of this post

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