Short-term “Trouble for Big Business Intelligence Vendors” may lead to longer-term advantage

linkedin Chief Information Officer (CIO) Network

This post is another that highlights responses I have made on various forums. In this case, a news article was posted on the Chief Information Officer (CIO) Network group (as ever you need to be a member of and the group to view the original thread).

The news article itself linked to a piece / podcast on The IT-Finance Connection entitled: Big BI Vendors Facing Big Challenges. In this Nigel Pendse, author of the anual BI Survey, was interviewed by IT-Finance Connection about his latest publication and his thoughts about the BI market in general.

Nigel speaks about issues that he sees related to the consolidation of BI vendors. In his opinion this has led to the big players paying more attention to integrating acquisitions and rationalising product lines instead of focusing on customer needs. In one passage, he says:

Within product development, the main theme moved from innovation to integration. So, instead of delivering previously promised product enhancements to existing customers, product releases came out late and the highlights were the new connections to other products owned by the vendor, but which were probably not used by the existing customers. In other words, product development was driven by the priorities of the vendor, not the customer.

Whilst there is undoubtedly truth in Nigel’s observations, I have a slightly different slant on them, which I offered in my comments:

It is my very strong opinion that what the users of BI need to derive value is not the BI vendors “delivering previously promised product enhancements” but using the already enormously extensive capabilities of their existing BI tools better. BI should not be a technology-driven area, the biggest benefits come from BI departments getting to know their users’ needs better and focusing on these rather than the latest snazzy tool.

If this does happen, it may mean less than brilliant news for the BI vendors’ sales in the short-term, but successful BI implementations are going to be a better advert for them than some snazzy BI n.0 feature. The former is more likely to drive revenues for them in the medium term as companies build on successes and expand the scope of their existing BI systems.

See also: BI implementations are like icebergs

While some people see large potential downsides in the acquisition of such companies as BusinessObjects, Hyperion and Cognos by large, non-BI companies, you could argue that their new owners are the sort of organisations that will aim to use BI to drive real-world business success. Who knows whether they will be successful, but if they are and this is at the expense of technological innovation, then I think that this is a reasonable sacrifice.

As to whose vision of the future is right, I guess only time will tell.

12 thoughts on “Short-term “Trouble for Big Business Intelligence Vendors” may lead to longer-term advantage

  1. Thank you for you insights,

    I personally think that this is the time for the smaller players to raise, Companies like Qliktech and SiSense have the opportunity to gain more market share

  2. Don,

    Thanks for the reply. You may well be right. Recessions tend to offer opportunities to smaller companies as they retain the agility and boldness to try things when their larger brethren are retrenching.

    A countervailing trend is perhaps that large companies with relatively stable cash-flows may be in a position to gobble up smaller fry at knock-down prices at present.


  3. Peter,

    I think you revealed a bias in Nigel’s analysis, that he sees the unabated march of new product features as crucial. You were correct to point out that this isn’t really the solution to BI malaise.

    On the other hand, the surrounding technology of BI is moving pretty fast, so I suppose vendors do need to keep up. Besides, I don’t look to the vendors to be able to do more than install their products and maintain them. The answer to better use of the tools has to come from elsewhere.

  4. Neil,

    Perhaps in seeking to offer an alternative perspective, I might have come across as something of a Luddite; Devil’s Advocate is a hazardous occupation!

    I do agree that there are some exciting things happening with BI technology, but also think that many companies have not successfully exploited the last generation of technology (or even the one before). Addressing that issue has to be down to the companies themselves as you suggest.


  5. […] are like icebergs, “All that glisters is not gold” – some thoughts on dashboards and Short-term “Trouble for Big Business Intelligence Vendors” may lead to longer-term advantage) , I have laid out my framework for BI success and explained why I feel that technology is not the […]

  6. My extended family of 5 kids, 5 grand kids, son-in-law, daughter-in-law and one significant other were all in St Louis for the polar vortex. Yeah it was cold as hell.

    Neil Raden CEO & Principal Analyst Hired Brains Research Co-Author “Smart (Enough) Systems,” 2007, Prentice-Hall Contributor “InformationWeek”, Forbes BBBT Member (Boulder BI Brain Trust) LinkedIn: Twitter: @neilraden (Mobile) +1 805 284 2322

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