Business Intelligence Software

The Business Intelligence software market has, over the past few years, been a consolidating market. For many years, pure play Business Intelligence players  such as Business Objects, Cognos and ProClarity have been developing Business Intelligence tools and applications which have served the market incredibly well. So well in fact, that it has caught the attention of several of the worlds largest software companies.

Add to this mix the phemomenal growth of this market, and you begin to realise why several of the worlds largest software companies decided it was time to go on a shopping trip.

One of the earliest purchases, or part purchases to be exact, was that of the OLAP technology developed by Panorama. Microsoft purchased this technology to enhance their Microsoft SQL Server product suite and have since implemented the technology into SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS).

Another early purchase what that of Hyperion by Oracle. Hyperion is a widely used tool, with a particular promenance in the finance industry. This was  purchased by Oracle to expand their existing Oracle Business Intelligence product suite.

Microsoft entered the market once more in 2006, with it’s purchase of ProClarity Corporation. This, together with it’s purchase of Panorama’s OLAP technology, allows Microsoft to make a strong and affordable case for Microsoft Business Intelligence. Microsoft has been busy stiching together all of it’s purchases and has
now released it’s flgagship Businesss Intelligence product – Performance Point Server.

More recently, we have seen two of the largest ‘pure play’ Business Intelligence software houses be swallowed up. The first of these was the purchase of Business Objects – considered by many to be the number 1 pure play Business  Intelligence software vendor – by the German software house SAP. The comprehensive software stack provided by Business Objects, and the recent advancements in it’s Business Objects Web Intelligence software, made this a tasty purchase for any willing software house with deep enough pockets.

Not to be outdone, Cognos,  Business Objects’ main competitor, was bought out shortly after by IBM. IBM has recently undergone a massive transformation, moving from a primarily hardware vendor (following the sale of its Laptop and PC division to Lenovo), to one of IT services and software vendor. It’s move into this market is an interesting one.

Also in the market space is the privately held SAS corporation. SAS Business Intelligence deliver an extensive suite of software, specifically focused on the data mining side of Business Intelligence.

There still remain a number of smaller ‘pure play’ companies in the market. These include Bonavista Systems, recently acquired by XLCubed and Tableau. Bonavista Systems have developed impressive software incorporating Stephen Few’s Bullet Graphs and Edward Tufte’s Sparklines. Their modules work as an add-in to Microsoft Excel. It is well worth viewing their product demonstrations. Tableau are also have an excellent reputation for developing incredibly powerful and simple to use graphical tools to analyse data.

Another ‘small player’ (and we use that term lightly) pushing the reporting and analytical analysis boundaries is Panorama. Many believed that Microsoft would  have sought to marry Panorama rather than ProClarity, particularly having got engaged with the company following it’s purchase of Panorama’s OLAP  technology many years ago. However, despite many rumours, Panorama was jilted at the altar, and Microsoft tied the knot with Panorama’s main competitor, ProClarity.

In the ETL software market, several players jockey for position including Business Objects Data Integrator, Ab Initio and Datastage. However, the big daddy in the ETL field is Informatica Powercenter. With a large user base, and a reputation for its speed, Informatica is considered the number 1 ETL software house in the market today.

Finally, we couldn’t leave this topic without discussing Open Source Business Intelligence. Open Source development generally is an expanding market, much to the chagrain of the traditional ‘paid for’ software vendors. There are some very clever people working in the Open Source Business Intelligence area, many of whom have worked in the development teams of some of the larger Business Intelligence software houses. Two notable companies in this area are the Pentaho Open Source Project and Jaspersoft.

No doubt you may feel slightly overwhelmed by the wide variety of software applications and vendors available in this market. To help you with this, we’ve put together a Business Intelligence application by vendor matrix, which will provide you, at a glance, with an overview of everything that is available.

So it’s clear that the Business Intelligence software market is one going through some very dramatic growth, and with the ‘big boys’ now joining the game, it is going to become very interesting in terms of future releases, features, integration, support and pricing.


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