BI is big business, says analyst

It is the quickly evolving demand for business intelligence software that is prompting the development of a new business intelligence centre in Montreal, according to the centre’s managers.

Edison, N.J.-based DMR Consulting, owned by Fujitsu Ltd., has opened its Business Intelligence (BI) Center of Excellence, with a physical presence in Montreal and virtual branches globally. The centre is intended to service and support DMR’s BI teams in offices across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Brad Culp, senior vice-president of U.S. Commercial Service at DMR, said the centre is a refocusing of its current efforts to be able to provide customers with specific data and business intelligence services.

“In some ways, this is a repackaging, but it is really providing focus, bringing together a collection of our best people and practices who are exclusively charged with providing our clients with real solutions to business problems through the strategic application of BI products and tools,” he said.

DMR statistics show BI is becoming a key business driver for corporations as they try to leverage the data within their organizations, with the North American market expected to be worth more than US$20 billion this year.

The statistics also show that BI is growing at 20 per cent annually, and represents 10 to 15 per cent of all IT spending. A number of factors are contributing to this growth, Culp said, not the least of which is the aftermath of Sept. 11.

“More than ever, people want to understand their exposure to risk,” he said from Seattle. “With the economy as it’s been, one of the areas we are seeing increased demand in is supply-chain analytics and being able to evaluate the components of cost in the supply chain.”

While the market may be doing well right now, Warren Shiau, research analyst of software at Toronto-based IDC Canada, cautioned that BI might not always be seen as vital to those holding the purse strings.

“Our own forecasts for BI are quite good, it’s not a bad market,” he said. “However, the actual growth has proven to be subject to economic conditions. It’s not such an important area that people are buying BI solutions regardless of what their business situations are or what the economy is. That means it’s not regarded as an absolutely essential IT expenditure.”

Shiau said even Ottawa-based Cognos Inc., which maintains a stronghold on the BI market in Canada and internationally, saw a slow-growth period that coincided with a poor economy. Cognos did not return telephone calls.

“It’s not proven to be the absolutely important IT investment that a lot of people were evangelizing it as,” he said.

However, he added that the philosophy behind business intelligence still proves to be economically smart for businesses. “Cognos just put in a good quarter and it’s because of that old business adage that it costs a heck of a lot more to obtain a new customer than it does to keep a customer,” he said. “BI helps doing that, so for DMR to set up the centre, it’s not a bad idea because it is a market that will grow, though it is sensitive to the economy.”

DMR Consulting, a Fujitsu Ltd. company, in Edison, N.J. is at

IDC Canada in Toronto is at

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