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The New Era of Business Intelligence 

By John Pyrce and Edward Vesely of ADVIZOR Solutions

Bye Bye Old BI

We may look back on 2005 as the year that Microsoft forever changed the business intelligence playing field.  The integration of SQL Server, SharePoint, Office, and Integration, Analysis and Reporting Services is quietly but dramatically changing the competitive landscape.

 What Exactly is Business Intelligence?

According to Webopedia, the term Business Intelligence (BI) represents the tools and systems that play a key role in the strategic planning process of the corporation.  These systems allow a company to gather, store, access and analyze corporate data to aid in decision-making.  Generally these systems will illustrate business intelligence in the areas of customer profiling, customer support, market research, market segmentation, product profitability, statistical analysis, and inventory and distribution analysis to name a few.

This trend is evidenced by findings recently reported by Survey.com, which cite that Microsoft’s share of OLAP purchases made in the last two years has more than doubled.  And remarkably, in the same period, more Oracle database users have opted for Microsoft’s OLAP server than Oracle’s.  These findings support regional reports of steady and often dramatic sales growth of the aforementioned Microsoft products.

As a result, two distinct camps are emerging: Old BI and New BI:

·        Old BI companies have consolidated, integrated and commoditized over the past 3-4 years.  Most have not innovated.  As a result, prices for their ETL (extract, transform, load), repository and reporting tools are expected to decline.  And if their platform is not Microsoft-, Oracle- or SAP-centric they could be in for an even ruder awakening.

·        Conversely, New BI companies have focused on real innovation during this same period.  These emerging leaders have seen the future and it is bright.  As a result, value-add technologies such as visualization are now gaining mainstream acceptance and adoption.

 

.NET versus .NOT

The last time this occurred in the BI marketplace was when Microsoft merely announced “Plato,” the predecessor to Analysis Services.  Buyers paused and their silence was deafening.  Prices fell dramatically and software vendors scrambled to higher ground, seeking early adopters of “higher end” offerings such as analytic applications.  Most were not successful.

Today, .NET developers are about to experience a perfect storm:

·        Data warehouses are maturing and now contain relatively high quality data.

·        Microsoft is offering perhaps the most elegant, and certainly the lowest cost platform upon which to develop BI solutions.

 

·        Major world economies are improving and BI investments such as performance management and Sarbanes-Oxley are again high on corporate wish lists.

 

·        Value-add technologies such as visualization are now available to enhance the Microsoft BI platform with significant value for mainstream business users.

This emerging market opportunity includes “business visualization” solutions that enable people to see and understand information in new and ever more powerful ways.  Some call it Visual BI.  Many call it the next wave of innovation since it completely extends Microsoft’s platform.  Nearly all recognize the opportunity to differentiate and deliver real value by creating cost-effective solutions that help masses of people quickly make accurate, fact-based decisions. cont'd page 2


 

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