Why they’re a leader: According to TIBCO, while the Business Intelligence software market is not a new one, it is in need of a new approach. “Just look at how many people rely on spreadsheets to analyze data that comes from traditional BI because the tools are still hard to use; it takes too long to get answers to new questions; and there is no clear path to action from the tools,” said Mark Lorion, VP of marketing for TIBCO Spotfire.
Adoption of traditional BI platforms has also been hampered by the lack of deep integration with business processes and reliance on static information resting in data warehouses. TIBCO Spotfire, in contrast, combines business process management (BPM), complex event processing (CEP), predictive analytics (PA) and visual data mining (DM) software. Thus, Spotfire handles everything from real-time data capture and streaming to data analysis, forecasting and interactive reporting on a single platform.
Lorion argues that TIBCO continues to revolutionize information architectures, so the future of Business Intelligence software will be both real-time and event driven, offering solutions for SOA, business process management, and business optimization that help companies become more cost-effective, agile, and efficient.
Key customers: Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Toshiba, Bank of America and Texas Instruments.
Key BI Executive: Rock Gnatovich, COO, joined TIBCO in 2007 through the Spotfire acquisition. Gnatovich had been serving as Spotfire’s President. Before that, he was President and CEO of Windchill Technology, an Internet start-up that was acquired by Parametric Technology Corporation.
Headquarters: Somerville, MA.
Why they’re a leader: Information Builders’ Business Intelligence software platform, WebFOCUS, has been implemented at over 12,000 customer sites, and is used to build Web-based BI applications. According to a company spokesperson, what sets Information Builders apart from the competition “is how WebFOCUS is being used by enterprise customers to improve their end-user customer relationships,” which the company dubs “Customer Facing BI.”
Despite being a pure-play vendor, Information Builders competes well against other enterprise suites because it provides broad platform, data-integration and application support. For instance, WebFOCUS plugs into iWay Software’s enterprise integration platform, thereby allowing customers to view information from multiple data sources. Because of integration efforts and partnerships such as this, Information Builders claims to be well positioned as a solution for organizations without a data warehouse and for operational reporting.
Key customers: Air Canada, City of Cincinnati, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, Johns Hopkins University, State of Colorado Department of Corrections and U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command.
Key Executive: Gerald Cohen, President and CEO, founded the company in 1975 along with Peter Mittelman (now SVP, FOCUS Division) and Martin Slagowitz, who currently serves as a consultant. Cohen is considered one of the pioneers of the Business Intelligence software space.
Headquarters: New York, NY
Why they’re a leader: According to QlikTech, the big difference between their Business Intelligence software, QlikView, and the rest of the market is that “anyone can use it.” First, the company offers a free, fully featured, no-time limit download of the software. Second, QlikView is designed to be easy to use.
According to the company, unlike traditional BI systems, which typically require advanced programming skills by IT professionals in order to create “rigidly inflexible reports,” QlikView allows the business user to access data from disparate sources and create searches and visual charts through simple point-and-click technology.
The company also argues that speed of implementation is a competitive strength. Where traditional Business Intelligence software can take a year or even a year and a half or more to implement, QlikView can be up and running in a few weeks. Moreover, QlikTech claims that QlikView provides 50% lower TOC compared to traditional BI systems – and research firm IDC backs them up on that all-too-familiar claim.
QlikView Free Download. I asked a company spokesperson what the catch was with the free version. “No catch, no limited functionality or time limit. Fully functioned and free for anyone to use as they’d like,” she said. “I guess the only catch is that once they want to share with a workgroup, they would need to buy licenses for the additional users.”
Key customers: Canon, Campbell’s Soup, Carlsberg, Gatorade, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Toyota, Shell.
Key BI Executive: Lars Björk, CEO, previously held several positions as CFO at such companies as ScandStick and Resurs Finance.
Headquarters: Radnor, PA.
Why they’re a leader: Tableau points to their strong sales growth over the past several years as a reason why they should be considered a Business Intelligence leader. That growth garnered them recognition by Inc. magazineas one of the country’s 500 fastest growing technology companies.
As with several other pure-play Business Intelligence software vendors, Tableau is working hard to be easy to use and intuitive, hoping to push BI out to a wider user base. Tableau calls this “rapid-fire BI” and claims to be the “only provider of data visualization and business intelligence software that can be installed and used by anyone while also adhering to IT standards.” Drag-and-drop features allow users – with no IT expertise – to visualize information from any structured data format.
While Tableau likes to point to ratings from Inc. and Gartner and the like to bolster their credibility, those same organizations have also expressed notes of caution. The “interactive visualization” style favored by Tableau and some of the other pure-play BI vendors is indeed catching on, but not just with customers. The larger vendors are all concocting similar features. This could spell trouble for a young company. Or it could make the firm an acquisition target in the next few years.
Key customers: Apple, City of District of Columbia, Ernst & Young, Google, Microsoft, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Walmart.com.
Key BI executive: Christian Chabot, co-founder and CEO, has led the company to 20 consecutive quarters of record sales – despite the recession. He was previously CEO of BeeLine Software, which was acquired by Vicinity.
Headquarters: Seattle, WA.