The Information Access Times Are a-Changin’

Information access market braces for change as non-BI vendors increasingly angle to get in on the act.

Not to be outdone by market-watching rival Gartner Inc., which recently projected healthy growth for the worldwide search and information access market between now and 2009, International Data Corp. (IDC) last week weighed in with its own verdict. Instead of focusing primarily on growth, however, IDC’s market prospectus focused largely on change.

And in this regard, IDC researchers say, the information access market—which in IDC’s lexicon includes not just search, but also business intelligence (BI), text mining, content management (CM), compliance, and data warehousing (DW) software—is poised for whole-scale transformation, as larger (non-BI) vendors increasingly angle to get in on the information access market, spurring ongoing consolidation and convergence across several markets.

This in turn will lead to an increase in acquisition activity and partnering, IDC researchers say. “[T]he next two years will be a time of ferment, change, and growth in the information access software and solutions markets,” said Susan Feldman, research vice president for content technologies with IDC, in a statement. Feldman says BI vendors will benefit from surging demand for information access technologies in the short term, but will face increasing pressure from larger, non-traditional players over time.

“Right now,” continued Feldman, “BI vendors have the edge because of their size; however, large software vendors, hardware vendors, and even software integrators are entering the converged market with a variety of platforms that combine some of the elements of the enterprise workplace. Each of these will seek to dominate the information access market by first selling to its installed base and then moving outward as it gains traction.”

Elsewhere, IDC says pervasive demand for information access (pervasive in that users will increasingly demand access to information at any time, from any place, and by means of any device), will encourage the development of a new class of products that can recognize a range of different devices, render or format information in ways that’s consumable by them, and deliver it securely.

Likewise, IDC talks up a kind of hybridization of BI and business process automation (BPA), which it calls “intelligent process automation,” or IPA. Red-hot demand for information access will help accelerate the merger of BI and BPA and in turn usher in the era of IPA, IDC researchers say.

In other respects, ubiquitous information access could finally trigger the advent of true “BI for the masses”—prompted in large part by exploding user constituencies. This in turn will increase the pressure on vendors to deliver highly scalable applications with easier-to-use interfaces.

Finally, if you thought search was still in its infancy, you’d better think again. In fact, IDC researchers say, fourth-generation search solutions will start to appear this year, boasting advanced language analysis tools and capabilities that start to impinge on the current generation of enterprise search solutions and the bread-and-butter data warehouse and OLAP markets.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.

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