Oracle remains the leader of the business analytics market, according to the latest forecast report from research firm IDC, as other vendors, such as SAS and Microsoft, continue to make inroads. On top in terms of both revenue and market share, Oracle is nevertheless closely followed by (in descending order) SAS, SAP, IBM, and Microsoft, according to the report.
IDC's definition of business analytics software comprises performance management applications and data warehouse platform software -- specifically, solutions used to access, transform, store, analyze, model, deliver, and track information to enable fact-based decision-making. According to the report, Oracle's analytics offerings took in nearly $2.8 billion in 2006, controlling 14.2 percent of the market. The software giant was followed by SAS, which earned $1.6 billion and had 8.2 percent of market share. Microsoft recorded the strongest growth of all the leaders, increasing its business analytics revenue by 24.6 percent.
While SAS was second behind Oracle, it was noted as the only vendor of the top 5 that focuses almost exclusively on business analytics, ranking at the top in 3 out of the 11 segments of the business analytics market. That, says Dan Vesset, program vice president of IDC's Business Analytics research, "strongly contributes to its number 2 ranking on the solution diversity scale." Finally, SAS had the third-highest momentum in the market in 2006, growing 14 percent.
According to IDC, the business analytics software market reached $19.3 billion in 2006, an 11.2 percent rise. Vesset expects continued growth over the next five years, though at a compound annual growth rate slightly beneath that level: 10.3 percent. Furthermore, IDC made the following predictions about the future of business analytics:
- Business analytic solutions will increasingly incorporate functionality for unified access and analysis of structured data and unstructured content, business process management, collaboration, and workflow management.
- The use of these tools has matured to a point that organizations are beginning to consider business analytics not just as a set of reporting functions, but as a means to gain competitive advantage through better decision management and process optimization.
- As consolidation among the leading business analytics vendors continues, a new generation of software vendors will target specific market segments with innovative new solutions. "These solutions will include not only functionality innovation but also business model innovation," Vesset says, specifically citing open-source and software-as-a-service (SaaS) business analytics.
The report also suggests that a new wave of business analytics deployments will materialize over the next decade and will be focused on addressing two primary demands:
- More data. As awareness increases reagarding the potential of business analytics to influence performance, the need to combine structured transactional data -- with various other forms of rich media content and unstructured and semistructured data -- will become more acute.
- More users. Traditionally, the business intelligence tools market has addressed the needs of business and quantitative analysts, with less attention paid to managers and supervisors, Vesset says. To achieve pervasive BI, organizations and vendors will have to rethink their approaches to technology deployment: They'll have to take into account expectations that users have by embedding business analytics functionality into operational applications, such as CRM and ERP systems.
At the same time, Vesset says, a shortage of IT developers and analytics experts continues to be a problem. "The number of these professionals doesn't seem to be keeping pace with the increased demand from end users. The widening gap between supply and demand will need to be filled with automation, external services firms, hosted/SaaS solutions, or outsourced business analytics solutions."