Paging Any BI Professionals – Please Come To The Service Desk – STAT!

Business Intelligence is hot, it's sexy, and everyone's talking about it – finally!  If you are a BI professional, this is probably not news for you.  BI is the “unfulfilled” promise of what ERP vendors have been promising since the mid 90's.
This, I couldn't help but smile when I read Rafae'ls great article that talked about how IBM is now shouting this from the rooftops.  They have good reason to.  There is not a company out there which is not focused on leveraging the mounds of information it has, information assets really being what they are, in a way to drive efficiencies, gain insight, edge out competitors and ultimately drive revenue growth and market penetration.  As someone who has been involved in BI for much of his career and is very passionate about the importance of Information Management & Quality – it has not been a question of IF, but WHEN the industry mobilizes around this unmet need in a big way.  And that is exactly what has been happening.  Just look at the players involved over the last 24 months – and the fact that these 3 BI acquisitions accounted for approximately 70% of the BI Performance Management market :
– Oracle offered $US3.3 billion for Hyperion
– SAP made a $US6.8 billion play for Business Objects
– IBM-Cognos union cost $US5 billion
Amidst all the consolidation that has occurred in the tech world during this time, it would have been easy to chalk this up to just more of the same.  After all, for a company like SAP or IBM, these acquisitions were relatively minor in scale. The truth is, for Oracle and SAP these were very defensive plays, both ERP heavyweights that have been long criticized for a lack of maturity in their existing, bundled BI capabilities.  Defensive plays because while ERP market share and growth is healthy, the BI space has been exploding with many companies “catching up” on years of under-funding/resourcing Business Intelligence, Master Data Management and initiatives such as CRM.
Rob Ashe was quite open and transparent in this interview back in January 2008 talking about Cognos under the IBM umbrella.  This was a big “missing piece” for IBM who, being “an independent” vendor (not vested in any specific ERP system) now has an end to end portfolio of data management solutions – thus their “Information-Led Transformation” focus and  Information On Demand strategy.
Many may be familiar with Gartner's “Magic Quadrant” paradigm, and it's application to BI – note that I am *not* always aligned with Gartner's “projections” or rankings, but in the BI space, they are pretty much bang on.  IBM's now in the top of that “magic quadrant” – you can read more here
So circling back to the title of this post – what does this mean to you, an IT Professional in the Business Intelligence or Business Process Improvement domains? You're positioned in a growth area that will see it's share of change, and opportunity in the years to come.  When it comes to Making IT Work, data based decision making is all the rage – and you Mr. or Mrs. BI/BPI Professional, the fun is just beginning. 


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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