Use of data warehousing tools growing

It’s the age of information, and nowadays everyone from executives in big plush offices to workers in tiny cramped cubicles have to access the vast stores of data that businesses collect.

So it’s not surprising that a new study by International Data Corp. (Canada) Ltd. has found the use of data warehousing and information access tools in Canada is growing. The Canadian data warehousing market is projected to grow at 20.6 per cent through the year 2003, according to the study. That growth rate is almost identical to the projected worldwide increase of 20 per cent.

The Canadian information access tools (IAT) market is projected to grow at 18.3 per cent through 2003, which is slightly below the worldwide rate of 21.3 per cent.

One of the reasons for that change, according to John Sawler, Mississauga, Ont.-based Oracle Corp. Canada’s national manager of product marketing, is that more people within an organization are using the tools.

“Before it used to be analysts and IT people,” he said. “Now the information is being disseminated to other people.”

The use of decision support tools is also increasing, said Kevin Restivo, an analyst at IDC Canada. Enterprise decision support tools accounted for approximately 34 per cent of the overall IAT market in 1998, which had revenues of $242 million in Canada.

“By slicing and dicing the data, and getting a better idea of who’s buying what and when and how, you’re able to justify your decisions better,” Restivo said.

Sawler said companies are using the tools to stay competitive. “A lot of organizations, both public and private, are looking at ways that they can be more competitive by reducing costs and understanding their customers and their public better. And they’re turning to data warehousing to do that,” he said.

Information used to be scattered throughout a firm, but now, with the advent of the Web, it’s often located in a central location, Sawler said.

“A lot of people are turning to the Web and saying, ‘I’m going to collect this information and centralize it in one location, and therefore it’ll be easier to access and easier to analyze.'”

Those companies that don’t use decision support tools aren’t maximizing the efforts of their workers, said Steve Del Zotto, a business intelligence solutions executive at IBM Canada Ltd. in Markham.

“Organizations that don’t have this kind of solution, I would suspect that their knowledge workers are probably spending a greater percentage of time trying to get the data and analyze it, versus making decisions. Whereas in organizations that have this capability, the knowledge worker is spending less time getting the data and spending more time analyzing and making decisions,” Del Zotto said.

This is why companies are adopting information access and decision support tools so quickly, he said. This is a trend that he expects to increase even more next year.

“As the Y2K period is coming to an end in the next three months, organizations are now going to refocus and catch up on some of the pent-up demand for this stuff that didn’t get executed in 1999 because of budgets or focus on Y2K. I think you’re going to see the area of warehousing grow faster next year,” Del Zotto said.

Currently Microsoft is on top of the Canadian IAT market, according to the IDC Canada study, with IBM and SAS coming in second and third, respectively.

“Microsoft is far and away the leader,” Restivo said, although he could not release information on exact market share.

In terms of the relational database management system market, the study found that Oracle, which had an 81 per cent jump in database revenues, took the lead from IBM in 1998. But that market is projected to grow at only 8.1 per cent this year to $395 million, which is down from a 12.8 per cent growth rate last year.