TDWI Tech Market Report Distills BI Tools Landscape

Get the skinny on the business intelligence tools market.

When you know better, you do better. Bowing to that maxim, TDWI recently unveiled its Tech Market Report on Business Intelligence Tools. Penned by Wayne Eckerson, Director of TDWI Research, and Cindi Howson, Founder of, the 24-page report delves into the current state of BI tools, offering a range of insights, observations and recommendations for TDWI Members.

"[These] reports aim to help business customers create a shortlist of products that they can evaluate in more depth before making a purchase, or to validate the direction and capabilities of an existing product," wrote the report authors. While the full report is only available to TDWI Members, here are some highlights:

Industry Trends

According to the report, performance management (PM) solutions have risen to the fore: "Performance management has become the new battleground for BI vendors, as signaled by the spate of acquisitions this past year," wrote the duo. "Performance management software, which monitors the execution of business strategy and plans, is the last untapped bastion within organizations to be automated with software."

The report also notes the solidification of BI platforms. Several major vendors in the BI space have spent considerable time and resources to round out their offerings. Says the report: "Most leading BI vendors have made significant headway in creating a unified architecture for supporting core BI capabilities, which generally now include: ad hoc query, end user reporting, production reporting, analysis (i.e., OLAP), dashboards, Office integration, and BI portals. All these capabilities, which were once packaged and sold as separate products within "BI suites," now use a common set of services and infrastructure to provide greater levels of product integration."

Several other significant trends are outlined in the TDWI Tech Market Report, including:

  • Agile development: the use of quick iterations and small interdisciplinary teams to fast-track application development
  • BI governance: the creation of special governance committees to oversee stewardship of data, applications and/or architectures
  • Microsoft Office integration: the ubiquity of the Office suite and corresponding development by BI vendors to incorporate suite functionality
  • Advanced analytics: the increased use of sophisticated technologies such as predictive analytics, text mining and text analytics
  • BI search: the maturation of search capabilities to augment traditional reporting and analysis
  • Federated data access: the growth of enterprise information integration (EII) and other right-time data access strategies, including operational BI
  • In-memory processing: the impact of 64-bit chips across the industry
  • AJAX, Flash and Flex: how Web 2.0 technologies are enhancing traditional BI tools with richer, more interactive interfaces
  • Open-source BI: how open source tools vendors are starting to gain traction
  • Software-as-a-service (SaaS): how this pricing/delivery model is beginning to change the game in software licensing

The Year Ahead

While the capabilities of predictive analytical software continue to expand, giving decision-makers a clearer picture of the road ahead, those applications can’t really be used to predict the future of this ever-changing industry. However, the report authors did offer some insights on what to expect in the next year.

One area of certain impact is the family of technologies and methods grouped under the moniker of Web 2.0: "The IT industry’s migration from mainframes to client/server and to the Web (fat and thin) and its subsequent adoption of Web services, composite applications, and Web 2.0 constructs have had or will have major ramifications on the BI tools market."

What will that mean on the acquisition front? "It’s... nearly impossible to predict the future topography of the vendor landscape," say Eckerson and Howson.

Some other predictions for the coming year include: the rise of unlimited user pricing (in part due to pressure from SaaS, and to a lesser (but not insignificant) degree, open source offerings); more near-real-time dashboards as PM rises and EII technologies and methods mature; more event-driven applications, again due in part to the rise of PM; increased system and usage monitoring, thanks to greatly expanded user communities, and a heavier reliance on BI as mission-critical technology; and more robust infrastructures.


The report also offerings a litany of specific recommendations. Overall, Eckerson and Howson caution practitioners: "Purchasing a BI tool to support your entire enterprise is a major investment. If your organization is among the Fortune 2000, the cost may run into the millions. Even if your organization is under $1 billion in revenue or you want to implement BI in a single department, price may be a barrier, although the advent of open source BI tools and Microsoft’s relentless push to commoditize software for the mass market is creating significant downward pressure on prices. Nevertheless, it behooves you to take precautions when selecting a BI tool to make sure you get the best fit for your organization’s needs today and in the future."

For the complete list of recommendations, download TDWI’s Tech Market Report today (TDWI Membership required).

About the Author

Eric Kavanagh is the president of Mobius Media, a strategic communications consultancy. You can contact the author at