The 2007 Market Awards: Business Intelligence

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The Market As the market for business intelligence matures and users become more sophisticated, more and more companies are buying into BI. Leslie Ament, an independent CRM analyst, says that one of the top trends this year is that "pricing and packaging BI applications for the midmarket [are] moving 'down-market.' " There's been a flood of acquisitions over the last year--Oracle's acquisition of Hyperion foremost among them--as vendors made moves to widen their breadth of functionality. Despite such major shake-ups this year, Jill Dyche, partner and cofounder of Baseline Consulting, argues that the most significant changes in BI are occurring on the end-user side of the equation. "We're seeing businesspeople start to self-educate and understand the impact of BI," she says. "It's more of a business conversation than it's ever been before." Business Intelligence: The Chart
One To Watch After a disappearance from last year's list, SPSS made a BI comeback in 2007. "All of a sudden they're coming out from nowhere," Dyche says. After releasing new versions of its data mining, text mining, survey research, and predictive analytics solutions this spring, SPSS has proven itself a formidable player in the BI industry. This vendor has found success both through aggressive company strategy and through user allegiance. Dyche says of the company's customer loyalty, "The people that have them are never going to let them go." The Leaders Business Objects, known for its massive BI implementations, scored another big year, delving into the midmarket with the new release of its Crystal Decisions product line, which came out this February. Business Objects also expanded its functionality through acquisition: The September 2006 purchase of ALG Software preceded the buying of data search developer Inxight the following May. These bold moves helped earn a company direction score of 4.1, the highest in the category. Dyche says that this vendor will continue to be forward-looking. "They were visionary about data quality early in the game," she says. "Now they're visionary about MDM." Cognos, in the face of investigations into company finances, continues to be a top contender in the BI space. Cindi Howson, president of ASK and author of the BIScorecard, says the company's "Web-based Cognos 8 product is one of the most integrated solutions." She notes, however, that "customer migration to the new platform has been modest." To ramp up customer investment, Cognos this year released the on-demand Cognos Now!, which utilizes the functionality the vendor gained from the acquisition of Celequest. Partnerships with Composite, the provider of Enterprise Information Integration, and tight integration with Microsoft Excel promise increased success in the coming year. Information Builders made its debut in the CRM Market Leaders issue in 2005 as a One to Watch. Although it seemed to have proven this title false in 2006 when it failed to garner leader status, the vendor made a major comeback this year with high scores in all categories, thanks in part to its services-oriented architecture (SOA). "Information Builders' SOA-based WebFocus BI Platform and iWay integration solutions allow organizations to easily integrate a BI layer with legacy applications," Ament says. Improvements in the past year--such as the availability of reports on mobile devices as well as a new compliance framework, combined with a very happy user base--have helped the company raise its industry status, according to analysts. Oracle commanded a spot on the leaderboard this year by employing the strategy of a Roman conqueror. The CRM giant is quickly swallowing up the BI market, one acquisition at a time. Still in the process of smoothing out the company's purchase of Siebel Systems, Oracle bought Hyperion this year for a staggering $3.3 billion. Although company direction is still a bit cloudy, with the number of tools now under its belt Oracle is poised to shoot up in status as a BI vendor in the coming years. "The whole will be greater than the sum of its parts," Dyche says. "And the sum of its parts is pretty good." The Winner SAS Institute reigns on our leaderboard again this year as king of the business intelligence industry. The vendor's near-perfect 4.5 score for functionality is proof of the comprehensiveness of its offerings. SAS also appears as a leader in our marketing automation category, but BI has always been what the Cary, N.C.-based company does best. The purity of this pure-play, however, can sometimes be detrimental, Ament says. "Integrating SAS BI with other vendors' offerings can be complex and difficult." However, end-user satisfaction as well as a vision that focuses on usability and vertical build-out has helped perpetuate SAS's success. ASK's Howson says the vendor "continues to deliver incremental improvement--with new visualization and dashboarding capabilities being the latest." It is this forward-looking mentality that keeps SAS number one. --Jessica Sebor
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