This is one of a series of posts on business intelligence and related analytic technology subjects, keying off the 2011/2012 version of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms. The four posts in the series cover:
- Overview comments about the 2011/2012 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms, as well as a link to the actual document.
- Business intelligence industry trends — some of Gartner’s thoughts but mainly my own.
- Company-by-company comments based on the 2011/2012 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms.
- (This post) Third-party analytics, pulling together and expanding on some points I made in the first three posts.
I’ve written a lot this weekend about various areas of business intelligence and related analytics. A recurring theme has been what we might call third-party analytics — i.e., anything other than buying analytic technology and deploying it in your own enterprise. Four main areas include:
- Business intelligence software OEMed to packaged operational application vendors.
- Business intelligence software OEMed to SaaS (Software as a Service) application vendors.
- Business intelligence software bundled into information-selling businesses.
- Stakeholder-facing analytics, which usually is just BI allowing customers (or suppliers, investors, citizens, etc.) to look into one of your databases.
The OEM aspects are what Jaspersoft was designed for. Information Builders has meandered into several of these markets over the decades, and in some cases may now be the leading supplier. Pentaho, depending on which week you inquire as to its strategy, may think of itself as emphasizing these sectors as well.
The granddaddy of them all is Crystal Reports, which was OEMed to smaller application vendors and SAP alike. (Intersystems once complained to me that some of its resellers paid more for Crystal Reports than for the whole Cache’ stack.) Crystal was bought by Business Objects; Business Objects was bought by SAP; and Crystal isn’t mentioned a lot these days. Still, I imagine that by most metrics, Crystal is still the biggest OEM BI supplier by far.
Usually, this is all about reporting and simple dashboarding. When a SaaS or information-selling company hires me to advise on the choice of analytic DBMS, I of course ask what they plan to do with it. Their ambitions rarely go beyond reporting and data extraction. Gartner Group’s comments on the product strengths/weaknesses of some of the third-party analytics leaders I cited are in line with that observation, and are in line with how I’d characterize those product suites as well.
Up to a point, that’s fine. If you want information, reports and simple dashboards are great ways to get it. However:
- Third-party analytics users of all kinds have the same needs and desires for advanced visualization as conventional enterprise users do.
- The same goes for collaboration.
- OEM users (packaged or SaaS alike) have the same needs and desires for any kinds of user-facing features as other enterprise users. I tried to think of features that large enterprises need but presumed smaller-enterprise OEM users don’t; none jumped to mind.
Thus, third-party business intelligence market leaders shouldn’t be as report-focused as they are.
I further think that application vendors — packaged or SaaS — should incorporate predictive analytics much more commonly than they do, but that’s a subject for another time.