Tuesday, February 24

Can BI be recession proof

Seems 2008 was a good year for business intelligence companies.  Some of you may not want to read that others are prospering, while many struggle (or at least worry about the future) but business intelligence could be a beacon of light for IT companies.

Here is a small sampling of growth numbers for traditional on-premise vendors that I found.  The article also said the business intelligence market is larger than Forrester's estimation of $8.5 billion.
  • SAP Business Objects posts double digit growth.
  • IBM Cognos reported 12% revenue growth for first nine months.
  • Microstrategy growth at 8%.
  • SAS Institute growth at 5%.
For many companies, these could look like great numbers in these economic times!  I hope you are apart of this growth in some shape or form.

Then I thought about the numbers (briefly).  Typically B2B sales take several months, maybe 6 - 10 months or longer to complete.  Meaning these growth numbers are from sales initiated in 2007 or early 2008.  Really not when the recession was causing havoc.  So the true test to the resilience of business intelligence will be the 2009 numbers.

"Is anyone looking to buy in 2009?", is the real test.

While growth numbers may or may not be interesting.  What could be very interesting would be to compare SaaS BI company growth with traditional on-premise.  Get the real numbers out there.  Of course, the size of revenues may be apples vs oranges but the percent growth would be interesting, yes?

Here are the 60 fastest growing companies, which SaaS vendors comprise much of this growth.  The link is near the end of the post, if you're not interested in healthcare on the internet.  Unfortunately I haven't found comparable numbers I could use (send some along if you know of any - we could do quick collaborative analysis).

As an aside, I am reading more and more about business intelligence being an add-on to ERP packages.  The first link above mentions the BI market of $8.5 billion doesn't include BI tools packaged with ERP, HR, and customer analytics applications.

I think it's inevitable that on-premise BI's future will be an attachment for ERPs.  Where that leaves enterprise-wide BI, I'm not sure.  Perhaps the value of enterprise-wide BI will be for large organizations with deep pockets to pay for the on-going costs.

If you're looking for emerging bright light technologies, check out:
  • predictive analytics
  • business activity monitoring (or complex event processing)
  • text analytics
  • column-based databases



Good article. I think Microsoft's Madison positioning post the Allegro acquisition would support your argument on the ERP add-on angle.

Tom Hudock said...

MSFT's acquisition of Allegro is their hope for SQL Server to finally break past it's mid-sized market perception.

Product Madison (the result of the acquisition) uses Massively Parallel Processing for performance on very large datasets, such as hundreds of terabytes.

SQL Server magazine overview of Product Madison

From what I understand, Madison is a stand-alone hardware appliance. Not sure how it would be an add-on to an ERP though.

With hardware vendors - Dell, EMC, HP, Unisys - teaming up with Microsoft to release the appliance, this is worth watching if you're into data warehousing.


David Cartwright said...

I have my doubts about SAP Business Objects' ability to continue to execute in 2009. The new owners do not seem to understand what was really valuable about Business Objects. They've bought a product suite and a brand name, but ditched the expertise that made it work. They quietly cut hundreds (if not thousands) of the top executives, sales, and technical people who made the company successful in small batches during 2008.

I've heard numerous stories about SAP managers pressuring Business Objects trainers and consultants to just give the answers to certification exams to SAP personnel rather than making sure they actually learn the software and best practices that go with it. Admittedly, this is just rumor, but is rumor that comes to me from multiple trusted sources inside of the company. It confirms the belief that many people have that SAP bought Business Objects because they don't understand and don't know how to do B.I.

Tom Hudock said...


I have also heard that thousands of Business Objects people were let go after the acquisition. Not the best time to be laid off however if competitors were smart, they would be hiring those people.

Within most rumors there is a hint of truth. Initially I was disturbed about your comment that SAP personnel could be given the answers to exams. But I thought about it and I'm not so much anymore. If SAP ruins a good thing, then market share opens up for others.

Although tough to swallow if you have a personal interest in Business Objects.

Unfortunately for business intelligence, the market is fragmented with many big players and there is no gorilla in the market. Include today's economy and you can expect there will be more changes from the top players.


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