Business Intelligence will decline but still vital for IT efficiency

The days of a strong BI market are over as the industry enters a state of flux but BI remains mission critical

The days of strong double-digit growth in the business intelligence (BI) market are over as the industry enters a state of flux following vendor consolidation, increasing maturity and price erosion, according to a report by Gartner. 

However, the market research firm insists that BI remains mission critical for businesses as it turns information into an asset for deriving insight and making decisions.  Gartner says that firms should make BI pervasive to business users by making it user-friendly, collaborative and process-driven.

Gartner analysts predict worldwide growth rates in 2007 to be slightly lower than the previous year, at 12.5% and will move into single-digits beyond $7 billion by 2011, with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.6%. 

Following consolidation among BI vendors, Gartner added that value to users can also increase as a result of mergers and acquisitions in the market. “Consolidation activities by SAP, Oracle, IBM and Microsoft should help accelerate the value derived from BI,” said Gartner senior research analyst and presenter.  “Large vendors will drive increased usage, while new BI vendors will emerge introducing innovative technology and products to demonstrate differentiation and fill the gaps in "mega-vendors'" product lines.”

Sommer added that increased BI innovation also means that query, reporting and online analytical processing (OLAP) capabilities have reached parity and no longer deliver competitive edge.  Most vendors now include these basic BI capabilities in their product stacks, including Microsoft which added more BI functionalities in SQL Server 2005, Office 2007 and PerformancePoint Server.  Remaining pure-play vendors can recruit application vendors (not SAP, Oracle or Microsoft) as original equipment manufacturers (OEM) of their BI platform to provide analytical applications, or leverage relationships with value-added resellers (VARs) for domain-specific solutions.

Successful pure-play BI vendors will likely incorporate emerging areas in BI such as dashboards, predictive modelling, enterprise search, interactive visualisation techniques and in-memory analytics.

Gartner advises end users of BI solutions from vendors that have been recently acquired to hold strategic investments until a product roadmap has been clearly presented from the vendor. It says that even though there is no doubt that the acquired core products—such as Oracle’s Hyperion Essbase, Business Objects XI, or Cognos 8— will remain highly strategic and supported by extensive research and development funding, overlapping products in a vendor’s portfolio may see some defocus in the mid-term.

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