Thanks to a weak economy that won’t be booming anytime soon, plus a potent array of top- and bottom-line benefits, the lure of business intelligence softwarehosted in the cloud has triggered many refugees from the mature vendors – and prodigious amounts of venture capital.
So many companies have been launched over the past five years, and have gained traction in the market, that there has already been at least one casualty, LucidEra.
Dozens of start-ups have attracted not only VC money but also paying customers. Birst, PivotLink, GoodDataand others are providing either a full suite or a series of point solutions for customer analytics, performance management, workforce analysis or other tasks. Many of these feature were formerly only available from an on-premise implementation.
The success of Salesforce.comhas led it to become a platform for Business Intelligence software tools to analyze the customer and sales information in the hosted CRM environment. More hot companies are coming into this space. Howard Dresner of Dresner Advisory Services (he coined the phrase Business Intelligence), predicts a number of companies coming out of stealth mode this year.
“A lot more new technology is coming that will delight people,” he explains. “It will be easier to deploy and manage. In addition, it will be more intuitive and more usable than what is already out there.”
As you read through the press releases, blogs and other hype, keep in mind the pedigree question: To properly gauge the value of a start-up, check out the backgrounds of the management team.
Dresner notes that a herd of “brilliant people who came out of the legacy companies” have launched an explosion of new Business Intelligence companies. He calls this new wave the BI 3.0 era. He should know when it’s a new era—he’s the author of several books on performance management.
Business Intelligence Legacy Players’ Rework in Progress
Meanwhile, the large established Business Intelligence players are rapidly moving to offer hosted versions of their apps in the short term. The challenge for some, though, is that they’re still digesting their last acquisition binge. SAP’s purchase of Objectsoft and Business Objects, IBM’s purchase of Cognos and SPSS and Oracle’s purchase of Siebel, PeopleSoft and Hyperion created a major interoperability challenge.
For certain customers, by the time these major players have forged a seamless interface among their broad Business Intelligence software suites, not everyone will care — it will be easier to just do it in the cloud.
Here’s a new scorecard of the legacy Business Intelligence software players I assembled from various articles and reports by IDC, Forrester, Gartner, Ventana Research and various independents. Use it to keep track of the leading vendors as they try to maintain their existing business model and adopt a radical new one at the same time:
Actuate: Hosted version of its performance management tools available since 2008.
IBM/Cognos: Already offering hosted BI apps and reworking existing on- premise apps to interoperate in the cloud.
Informatica: Cloud to on-premise integration tools introduced in 2009.
Microsoft BI: On demand version of SharePoint, which is the hub of its Business Intelligence stack, along with its Azure cloud development tools.
Microstrategy: Supporting SaaS by partnering with hosts.
Oracle BI: Offering hosted version of its Business Intelligence apps.
SAP BI: Offering products to integrate cloud with existing on-premise apps
SAS Business Intelligence: Building a data center for hosting apps.
Teradata Business Intelligence: Cloud offering on top of Amazon.com’s EC2 platform.
Meet the leading Business Intelligence Software 3.0 players in the cloud
When evaluating a start-up in the SaaS BI space, the pedigree of the alumni is a key criteria. I gathered nominations from reports and articles by analysts who I trust, and in a few cases added companies launched by people I know personally:
Business Intelligence Company: Alumni pedigree
PivotLink: Hyperion, SPSS, SAP.
Host analytics: Oracle, Hyperion.
Cloud 9 analytics: Cognos, Oracle, Informatica.
Vertica: Legendary DBMS developer Mike Stonebreaker plus alums from Oracle and elsewhere.
Proferi: In stealth mode, but management team from SAP, Siebel and Hyperion.
Indicee: Crystal Reports, Microsoft, Symmetrics and Business Objects.
The above is just a sampling of what is out there. The key take away is that a hosted Business Intelligence software solution is going to be in your future, whether you like it or not.