BI Market Entering 'Flux' Phase, Says Gartner


In the annals of business intelligence history, 2007 may become known as the year of the Big Buy. Oracle bought Hyperion, SAP claimed Business Objects, IBM bought Cognos, and the year ended with some drama between Oracle and BEA Systems that, surprise, resulted in this week's announcement that Oracle will pony up $8.5 billion for BEA.


Buoyed by strong spending and enterprise interest, BI became a "must have" for all the big software vendors -- several of whom are making it central to their platform strategies.


So this will lead to even more growth, right? Nope. Gartner says the market grew 12.5 percent in 2007, down a bit from the previous year, and will slow even more over the next few years as the dreaded "flux" settles in. It's predicting a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.6 percent, according to ComputerWeekly.com.


This turn of events is predictable, of course.


BI is becoming more accepted and is thus losing its "next big thing" status. "... Query, reporting and online analytical processing (OLAP) capabilities have reached parity and no longer deliver competitive edge," notes the article, with most major vendors offering these capabilities. While differentiation will return with newer features such as predictive modeling, visualization and in-memory analytics, many companies will take a wait-and-see attitude.


Not many tech buyers will want to risk making major BI purchases as they wait for the post-consolidation dust to settle. As Gartner itself advises, according to the ComputerWeekly article, "... hold strategic investments until a product roadmap has been clearly presented from the vendor." On a scarier note, "...overlapping products in a vendor's portfolio may see some defocus in the mid-term."


However, post-flux BI should yield even more value for users. Says Gartner:

Large vendors will drive increased usage, while new BI vendors will emerge introducing innovative technology and products to demonstrate differentiation and fill the gaps in "mega-vendors" product lines.