Guest Editorial: The New World of Business Intelligence

If asked to identify a market that will be worth $148 billion by 2003, you would probably think first of e-business, customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management (SCM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP). Most people consider these market segments to be tomorrow’s big guns when it comes to market growth and overall size.

Taken together, e-business, CRM, SCM and ERP get the lion’s share of cover stories, feature articles and headlines in the trade press, as well as regular coverage in general-interest business publications, such as the Wall Street Journal. Venture capitalists are falling all over themselves to throw money at 20-year-old college students with loosely formed ideas for any of these market segments. In fact, startups can put the letter "e" in front of just about anything, including dog food, and attract millions of VC dollars.

Another market that is capturing far less attention; is growing at exponential rates; is mission-critical to every business, regardless of size; has every major technology company as a player; features e-everything delivery and interaction; offers exponentially more capability at orders of magnitude and lower prices than just a year ago; is commercializing top-secret technology from formerly off-limits U.S. government programs; boasts some of the hottest initial public offerings (IPO) and best-performing companies of the last two years; and has nowhere to go but up. That market is business intelligence (BI). Survey.com predicts that it will be a 148-billion-dollar global market by 2003.

BI is the sleeper market segment in the technology world. It is often the poor stepchild of the high-flying, big-headline e-business and CRM segments. Largely shunned through the ’90s by the general press, and misunderstood by most technology and financial analysts, it has slowly been building strength and momentum for the last decade.

The current BI market is built on the foundation of a modern BI infrastructure, consisting of a federated architecture, accommodating all the components of a contemporary BI system: packaged/turnkey data warehouses and data marts, packaged/turnkey analytical applications, custom-built data warehouses and data marts, custom-built analytic applications, data mining, online analytical processing (OLAP) tools, query and reporting tools, production reporting tools, data quality tools, extraction transformation and load tools, system management tools, information delivery tools, enterprise information portals, reporting systems, knowledge management systems, database systems, etc. The BI federated architecture is the "big tent" that provides the foundation and environment to facilitate and enable business information flow, analysis and decision-making.

BI’s evolution from a small-scale, rather provincial market to a powerful global segment has not come without some growing pains. In the early days, the BI market was defined and led by a handful of people, tools, technologies and companies. Some market leaders, such as Prism Solutions and Carleton, have fallen by the wayside, unable to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation and the challenges of today’s extremely diverse and very fast-moving market. Some of yesterday’s market leaders have been crushed by new, innovative approaches (bottom-up), architectures (federated systems), and technologies (second-generation extraction transformation and load tools) that have redefined the entire BI market. This trend will continue and promises to accelerate in the coming years.

Today, the BI market balances on the cusp between the old world and the new. The market is hitting the elbow in the hockey stick of the growth curve and is rapidly accelerating. Yesterday’s BI world was a market of thousands. BI was a small market, formed and led by like-minded technologists comfortable in a rather insular small-scale world.

The BI market is moving quickly toward a market of millions. Rapidly dropping price points and powerful packaged/turnkey solutions – such as profitability, inventory, marketing campaign and sales analysis – are enabling businesses of all sizes and technical abilities to enjoy powerful BI capabilities. Business-driven innovators delivering pragmatic solutions are at the vanguard of the new world of business intelligence.

 

–Douglas Hackney, President

Enterprise Group Ltd.