The Bifurcation of Business Intelligence

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The Wisdom of BI Crowds

A study by Dresner Advisory Services suggests that business users are winning the war with IT over business intelligence. Most new BI projects appear to be small in scope, and to favor emerging BI vendors.

There's growing tension among proponents of business intelligence solutions as new offerings based on open source software and software-as-a-service solutions gain traction.

A recent worldwide survey of 457 executives conducted by Dresner Advisory Services finds that end users are starting to embrace these offerings, largely because they are simpler to use and can be paid within a department's budget, but sometimes in spite of the BI standards driven largely by the IT department.

Eventually, the data that is updated across multiple BI solutions will have to be addressed.

Some of the tension over BI, says Howard Dresner, principal of Dresner Advisory Services, stems from IT organizations leveraging relationships with established software vendors such as Oracle, IBM and SAP to bundle BI software with other purchases of enterprise software licenses. Many end users, however, prefer to use other BI tools, and use the BI software deployed by IT as a data repository from which to populate their applications.

Dresner will go into more detail about the study during a webinar later this month. Among the major software vendors, the Dresner study gives a slight edge to Oracle in terms of momentum, while among the more established pure-play BI vendors, Information Builders gets the nod. In the emerging vendor category, Dimensional Insight carries the day. But the study also shows that Pentaho, Jaspersoft, Tableau, PivotLink and QlickTech are gaining ground.

One trend that favors these emerging players, says Dresner, is that companies have been placing smaller bets on BI in terms of scope of implementation since the start of the recession. In fact, Dresner says that more often than not, new BI implementations are being driven by small groups of end users that have been left to fend for themselves as IT organizations concentrate more on controlling their own internal costs.

There's no doubt, says Dresner, that IT organizations will eventually look to integrate all these BI applications under a common application framework. But it's highly unlikely there will ever be a central BI standard within most corporations, which is a fact of life that Dresner says most IT organizations and the big vendors that support them should start getting used to.