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The OLAP Report identified the top three OLAP vendors as Microsoft, Hyperion and Cognos in that order. Other indicators show that those companies fall near the top across the realm of business intelligence software. In this abbreviated forum, it is impossible to provide exhaustive insight to differentiate these quality BI players, yet a few observations are in order:
· Microsoft – Microsoft's SQL Server 2005 represents a significant presence in the BI marketplace. It apparently offers all of the important features couched in a framework of familiar legacy systems. Building on the widely deployed Office suite of products, they incorporate tools known to most, especially non-IT users. Microsoft has found a symbiotic blend of a huge deployed base with innovative add-ons and acquired adjuncts that set them apart from their competitors. It is no wonder they are at the top and growing in market share.
· Hyperion – Hyperion's System 9 is a significant and powerful suite of business intelligence tools geared to the extremely valuable concept of performance management. However, it is apparent that the System 9 foundation is somewhat tied to financial management applications. This may not be all that bad, since IT grew up in MIS and financial reporting. It does make one wonder if by de-emphasizing other business function areas, their declining market share may have suffered.
· Cognos – Cognos 8 is a truly comprehensive product line. It appears to be integrated and directed to all areas of enterprise activity. There is also a keen emphasis on performance management. This richness of scope seems to be more competitive with Microsoft and possibly explains Cognos' maintenance of share in a wildly growing market.
Real-time business intelligence is driving the future. Charles Nicholls, CEO of SeeWhy, a software company in the UK, observes, “business users don't want to wait for information … why should business intelligence be any different?” This will create change within organizations to accommodate and exploit “real-time flows of business data” notes Nigel Stokes, CEO of Data Mirror Corp. of Toronto.
This is manifesting itself within the newly established moniker of ‘BI 2.0,' described as a real-time analog to traditional BI data retrieval, manipulation and exploitation of information. Are you ready for it?