I wrote a post earlier this year about how, despite a round of intense consolidation in the business intelligence market, there were still plenty of pureplays out there. What's more, the independents were leading the way with some of the more innovative variants of BI technology.
That's not one of the points made by BI expert Ted Cuzzillo in his eWEEK piece on how to select the right BI vendor, but he does mention three other advantages of selecting an independent rather than a non-specialist like IBM or Microsoft:
- Working with independents gives you the ability to assemble a collection of tools that best suit your organization's BI needs rather than using tools included in a big vendor's suite of "integrated" software. Some of the latter tools just may not be up to snuff, Cuzzillo points out.
- With an independent, you avoid the dreaded (and often costly) vendor lock-in. It's easier to switch tools, an especially important consideration in light of the fast-changing nature of technology, notes Cuzzillo.
- Independent vendors are more likely to listen to customer feedback than their non-specialist counterparts. And the smaller guys generally have clearer product roadmaps, something that tends to vanish after being acquired by a big guy. For instance, Cuzzillo wonders, now that Cognos is a part of IBM, "will it retain its independent database roots or will it be pulled toward DB2?"
Are there disadvantages to working with an independent vendor? Sure, writes Cuzzillo, citing the fact that it's more difficult to find services providers with experience working with lesser-known tools. Still, he concludes, open systems are preferable as they "leave a path open for rapid and unpredictable evolution."