Seagate Software Inc. is giving away copies of its stand-alone business intelligence software, Seagate Analysis, to anyone who wants it.
And while Howard Dresner of the Gartner Group in Stanford, Conn., thinks the product is competitive, he warns companies not to adopt the software simply because it’s available.
Seagate Analysis might very well be the right software for a given company, Dresner said, but companies need to compare the product with others and make a careful decision before making a choice. He is afraid the free give away will take the decision of which business intelligence tool to use away from IT and put it into the hands of end users.
“That’s sort of a bottom-up approach. If we let the users decide which tool they’re going to use simply by installing it, then how can IT support that. It’s not a supportable environment. I’m going to take the free software from Seagate, you’re going to take the free software from someone else. So they’re effectively going to be making product selection decisions based on who gave them the free CD,” Dresner said.
If a company has different software performing the same function, it will make it tough when a company decides to implement an office-wide business intelligence system, he said.
Along with the free Seagate Analysis offer, the Vancouver-based company is also giving away 50-user licences of Seagate Info 7, which links together Seagate Analysis users.
“We felt that in order to break through this market, break through the barriers that exist, to establish a name for Seagate Software and really demystify the complexity of these software tools, we felt we needed to do something dramatic,” said Seagate product manager Ken McGovern.
The business intelligence market is the fastest growing sector in the software industry and is expected to grow from a $1.2 billion in 1997 to $6.2 billion by the year 2002, according to McGovern.
The way in which companies use the software is also changing, McGovern said. There was a time that only a senior analyst within a company would use business intelligence software, but that’s changing, McGovern said.
“Virtually everybody in a company – and it doesn’t matter if you’re in an entry-level position or you’re the CEO – needs to have information in order to make a decision. And everybody in the company is a decision maker in one form or another,” McGovern said.
Jacqueline Sweeny, a senior analyst at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass., agrees.
“We’re seeing a much higher adoption rate for data warehousing and data marts. There used to be one power analyst in the group that created reports, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore. Adoption is really increasing,” Sweeny said.
The software is designed to allow users to access information from virtually any type of database, including most ODBC-compliant databases, McGovern said.
Users can view information through an ad hoc query or an OLAP method. Ad hoc queries produce a series of columns and rows that can quickly be put into a report, while the OLAP technology adds depth to those columns and rows and allows users to break down the data according to different variables, such as sales by country and year.
Users can also import the data to Excel. “This is a triple win situation,” said Michael Schiff, director of data warehousing for Current Analysis Inc. in Sterling, Va.
Seagate’s marketing strategy will not only benefit Seagate, it will also benefit consumers and the business intelligence market as a whole. Most consumers don’t know that business support software has more to offer than just spreadsheets and free software from Seagate might change that, Schiff said.
The industry will also benefit as more users begin using business intelligence software, he continued. “Ultimately it’s going to help the industry in general.” He added that other companies might have to rethink their pricing strategy.
Seagate Analysis is available at http://fetch.seagatesoftware.com/products/seagateanalysis.
Seagate Software in Vancouver is at 1-800-877-2340.