October 31, 2013

Specialized business intelligence

A remarkable number of vendors are involved in what might be called “specialized business intelligence”. Some don’t want to call it that, because they think that “BI” is old and passé’, and what they do is new and better. Still, if we define BI technology as, more or less:

then BI is indeed a big part of what they’re doing.

Why would vendors want to specialize their BI technology? The main reason would be to suit it for situations in which even the best general-purpose BI options aren’t good enough. The obvious scenarios are those in which the mismatch is one or both of:

For example, in no particular order:

And that’s just a list of companies in my current or recent client base. There surely are other examples with which I’m less closely acquainted. (E.g. Glassbeam.)

And by the way, Michael Bloomberg became one of the richer people in the world offering a combination of specialized BI, manual reformatting, private networking and similar embellishments to a collection of essentially public sets of data.

In another possibility, since BI is traditionally used on a fairly stand-alone basis, special needs can arise when BI is to be tightly integrated into concrete applications. I’ve written more about Workday’s efforts in that regard than about larger vendors’.

Tying these observations into some of my previous posts:

And finally, this all seems consistent with my claim that even if you want to sell on the basis of analytic application benefits, you’d best have a strong proprietary technology story.


6 Responses to “Specialized business intelligence”

  1. Ken Chestnut on October 31st, 2013 5:12 pm

    Specialized BI is both a blessing and a curse. Solutions can be optimized for specific uses cases and/or data types but potentially exacerbate the ‘swivel chair’ problem requiring users to switch between applications depending on the analysis at hand.

  2. Curt Monash on October 31st, 2013 5:19 pm

    Yes. If we had a single data technology stack that was simultaneously optimized for every use case, we’d be much better off. I can’t argue with you about that. 🙂

  3. Claudia Imhoff on October 31st, 2013 5:54 pm

    Curt – you are spot on in calling out “specialized BI” as BI. IMHO, Business Intelligence is more than just the BI tools though. I see it as encapsulating all the information assets that make a business intelligent – streaming analytics, text analytics, etc. After all, who doesn’t want a more intelligent business… 🙂

  4. Ken Chestnut on November 1st, 2013 1:07 pm

    Yes. One stack to rule them all. 🙂

    The market will consolidate. Just a question of when and who will be consolidator vs consolidatee vs out of business (due to lack of competitive differentiation)…

  5. RDBMS and their bundle-mates | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on November 10th, 2013 2:23 pm

    […] Specialized business intelligence stacks are on the rise, although generally with a beyond-just-relational flavor. […]

  6. Rules for names | Strategic Messaging on February 19th, 2014 9:02 pm

    […] Notwithstanding their own preferences, ClearStory and Platfora were both featured in my recent post on specialty business intelligence. […]

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