Business Intelligence Software: Ten Leaders: Page 2

The Business Intelligence software market is dominated by giants, yet a number of smaller BI contenders are working to get a piece of the pie.


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3. Oracle

Why they’re a leader: In terms of market share, they’re essentially tied with SAS for second place, but as a tech goliath, Oracle tends to have more detractors than SAS. It comes with the territory.

The Oracle BI Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) platform has the advantage of integrating with Oracle’s many other enterprise middleware, database and business application solutions. That alone creates momentum. Oracle is also a leader in the closely related field of data warehousing technology (the same is true for Microsoft and IBM).

Oracle’s acquisition of Sun was finalized in January 2010. That move doesn’t have a direct bearing on Business Intelligence, other than the fact that Oracle now says it will offer a “single stack” that combines Sun hardware and operating systems with Oracle’s middleware and applications.

How should customers read this? With Sun’s history with open source, it could mean more flexibility and greater openness. Or using Oracle’s track record as a guide, customers could experience an even greater risk of vendor-lock.

Link to Business Intelligence software page:

Oracle Business Intelligence & Data Warehousing Technology Center

Key customers: Facebook, Marvel Entertainment, Asiana Airlines, Marriott Hotels, New York City and Visa

Key BI Executive: Thomas Kurian joined Oracle in 1996 and rose through the ranks to become EVP, Product Development. Previously, he was a consultant with McKinsey and Company.

Headquarters: Redwood Shores, CA

4. IBM

Why they’re a leader: As governments and businesses continue to struggle with a significant “data glut,” IBM estimates that “one in three business leaders frequently make critical decisions without the information they need.” A recent IBM Global CIO Study involving 2,500 CIOs from 78 countries found that over 80% of executives ranked “business intelligence and analytics” as their top priority for improving competitiveness.

IBM has been spending heavily on business-intelligence and business analytics R&D, investing more than $12 billion in this space over the last 5 years alone. Ten percent of that investment can be accounted for by the $1.2 billion acquisition of SPSS in 2009. The acquisition added a predictive analytics element to the IBM Business Analytics software portfolio to “help clients eliminate blind spots in strategic information as they move beyond being able to ‘sense and respond’ to being able to ‘predict and act.’”

While IBM is obviously not a pure-play Business Intelligence software vendor, on IBM’s recent Q4 2009 earnings call, CFO Mark Loughridge declared that business analytics is one of the most critical parts of IBM’s overall strategy, both in terms of performance and opportunity for future growth.

With this kind of focus and investment, don’t be surprised if IBM is ranked higher the next time this list comes out.

Link to Business Intelligence software page:

Cognos Business Intelligence and Financial Performance Management

Key customers: Dorel Industries, Edmonton Police Service, Insurance.com, Lufthansa Cargo, Martin’s Point Health Care, Quiznos, City of Albuquerque, U.S. Coast Guard.

Key BI Executive: Rob Ashe, GM of Business Analytics, joined IBM when the company acquired Cognos in 2008. At Cognos, Ashe served in numerous senior executive positions, including CEO, COO, CFO and SVP of R&D.

Headquarters: Armonk, NY

5. Microsoft

Why they’re a leader: While Microsoft doesn’t “own” BI the way the do with so many other technology spaces, they are still able to leverage other related technologies, such as Office, SharePoint and SQL Server, to pitch their solution as one that “enables companies to leverage the technology infrastructure they already own.” Microsoft argues that this synergy represents “the lowest TCO, while putting BI in the hands of infinitely more users.”

It’s tough to argue with that. However, according to research from IDC and Gartner, Microsoft’s Business Intelligence software market share is a distant number five, representing only 7.7%.

That could change quickly. In 2009, Microsoft made the decision to incorporate the monitoring and analytics capabilities of its corporate performance management application (Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007) into Microsoft SharePoint Server, bringing together BI, collaboration, ECM and enterprise search onto the same platform.

The company is already seeing positive momentum. The most recent IDC and Gartner BI market share reports show Microsoft’s growth rate as 16.9% and 21.6% respectively.

Link to Business Intelligence software page:

Microsoft Business Intelligence

Key customers: Pepsi, Community Health Network, Kelley Blue Book, Hyundai, Bank of America.

Key BI Executive: Tom Casey, GM, SQL Server Business Intelligence, previously served in a similar role driving the development of Microsoft’s business process and integration products (BizTalk Server and Host Integration Server) and developing Microsoft’s overall workflow strategy.

Headquarters: Redmond, WA

6. MicroStrategy

Why they’re a leader: MicroStrategy’s key differentiator is its ability to support large-scale, demanding Business Intelligence environments. MicroStrategy software is often layered over massive data warehouses. For example, Lowe’s runs more than 375,000 BI reports each week and relies on MicroStrategy BI to track millions of store items against billions of transaction records to assist in the management of stock levels at its stores.

Another example is Yahoo, which uses MicroStrategy’s software to analyze petabytes of Web traffic and e-commerce data.

Despite some industry grumbles about unfavorable licensing and pricing agreements, MicroStrategy is now seen as a customer-friendly organization that offers one of the lowest TCOs of leading BI vendors. (By now you’ve probably realized that just about all the BI companies say that.)

Link to Business Intelligence software page:

MicroStrategy Reporting Suite

Key customers: Lowe’s Companies, Starbucks, eBay, AT&T, Yahoo, US Postal Service.

Key Executive: Michael Saylor, Chairman and CEO, founded MicroStrategy in 1989.

Headquarters: McLean, VA

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Tags: business intelligence, BI software, business intelligence software, BI

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