For several years business intelligence was the domain of a few large companies. Led by specialised companies like Hyperion and Microstrategy, few companies could afford business intelligence – even fewer had the sophistication to put it to work and really exploit what it could do for them.
Fast forward a few years and Business Intelligence has gradually come downriver. Fuelled by comoditisation by companies like Microsoft and Oracle more and more companies started to look at it. However the basic tenets of the underlying technology remained pretty much the same – technologies like OLAP, the need to create multi-dimensional cubes and complex data warehouses remained a virtual defacto requirement. So these aspects remained as a crucial barrier to entry not only from the aspect of the sheer cost of the technology and the accompanying complexity of implementation – but also due to the high cost associated with the specialists and the extensive timescales to deliver on projects.
Nevertheless, technology keeps marching forward and like many other dimensions of ICT , Business Intelligence has been undergoing evolution. Whilst many customers out there remain in the thrall of traditional suppliers like IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP (Business Objects) and Microstrategy, a new generation of companies have been quietly developing the next evolution. Terms such as Data Discovery, Business Discovery , In Memory Processing, Associative analysis , Set Analysis and many other techniques have broken into the market – companies virtually unheard of just a few years ago , such as Qlik , Spotfire, LogiXML and others have suddenly appeared squarely in the radar screens of industry analysts such as Forrester and Gartner.
What is truly amazing is the rapidity with which these firms have moved from being new entrants , to visionary and now into leadership positions in the BI space. One need only follow the trajectory of Qlik for instance , with their award winning Qlikview product, over a 3 year period. In this period Gartner moved the company successively from one quadrant to another and today Qlik sits squarely in the leaders’ quadrant with the likes of SAP, Oracle, IBM ,Microsoft and Microstrategy. By and large it is the sheer size of these latter firms rather than their product innovation that keeps them in the same quadrant. Spotfire and Qlik , mere dwarves by comparison seem oddly matched with these players. (To be continued…. The next installment will cover just why Business Discovery is different from Business Intelligence)