Letters to the Editor: The BI Platform Wars are Not Over
A BI analyst and TDWI faculty member takes issue with a BI This Week article about the state of BI platforms.
To the editor:
TDWI’s BI This Week is one of the few publications I read each week. I trust it to highlight what’s important in the industry and to be objective, so I was dismayed to read an inaccurate article with clear vendor bias.
In the article, The BI Revolution: Business Intelligence’s Future), the author wrote, “The old BI platform wars are over and the winners have emerged. Business Objects, Cognos, and Hyperion grew faster and to greater mass than all the other BI platform companies combined.”
I’d like to address my concerns with author disclosures, incorrect facts, and a difference of opinion.
The article byline stated that Brian Gentile was the author. I recognized the name but did not immediately recall that he is the CEO of open source BI vendor Jaspersoft. As a reader, I had to scroll another four pages to find that information. Certain people such as analysts and TDWI thought leaders routinely comment on industry trends in BI This Week. However, when it is a vendor, their views can be skewed by their strategy and position in the market. In an online world, TDWI must do a better job of communicating who has authored such articles lest it’s well-deserved and well-established credibility becomes questioned.
Clear BI Platform Winners?
Gentile says that three vendors grew “faster and to greater mass than all other BI platforms.” Assessing market leadership and growth is not an easy task, made more difficult over the years by vendor consolidation. Mega vendors do not have to split out their BI revenues and privately held vendors don’t have to report anything.
To assess growth, I rely on numbers reported in 10Ks, IDC market share reports, financials supplied by privately held vendors, and customer counts. With this information, the three vendors Gentile listed are neither correct nor complete.
Prior to being acquired by Oracle, Hyperion’s BI platform revenues were 7 percent in 2005 and 12 percent in 2006. Microsoft surpassed Hyperion’s revenues and growth back in 2004, with a growth of 25 percent. If we are just looking at “growing faster,” then it’s important to note that Siebel Analytics grew 31 percent in 2004 and was acquired by Oracle in 2005. It is the Siebel Analytic product, not the Hyperion product line, that has become the basis for Oracle’s lead BI product (now branded Oracle BI Enterprise Edition) as well as its Analytic Applications. Oracle Hyperion Essbase continues to be Oracle’s leading OLAP engine, but the other Hyperion BI products play a less-strategic role.
If the author intended to state the BI platform vendors with the biggest revenues in today’s terms, it should be SAP BusinessObjects, IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle. Depending upon if one includes statistical analysis as part of the BI platform, SAS is ranked in the top 3 or top 5. If the focus is on who “grew faster,” then vendors such as QlikTech should also be added as their revenue growth has been in the 40 percent range.