Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Maybe Status.net could be a BI application

This post has gotten a lot of attention. There are a couple of interesting points in it.

I think the idea at social networks could deliver new kinds of information to BI systems is a good one.

I also agree that social networks could deliver BI content. In fact BI is often very collaborative.

But that won't be the future of BI.

For one thing, there is a lot of information out there that nobody really has in his head. BI tools are there to discover that information. Until that happens, nobody in your network is going to be able to tell you about it.

BI content is often created by power users who swap content back and forth or create reports and publish them to relatively passive recipients. It is a very social activity, and in some ways it fits social networks. On the other hand, social networks have some of the well known failings that knowlege workers struggle with now, especially versioning, data quality and other reliability issues. Until a social network finds a solution to those problems, it won't revolutionize BI distribution.

Monday, March 30, 2009

SaaS is irrelevant to BI
There is some talk in the market about whether SaaS BI is viable. For example, Forrester is calling it unproven. Others aver that SaaS is the future of BI.

My view is that SaaS is simply irrelevant to BI. The arguments pro and con seem more suitable to discussing the future of SaaS ERP than to SaaS BI.

Forrester, for example, says there is a lot of skepticism about real time data transfers. Fine, but real time data isn't much use for strategic decision making anyway. Its study explicitly compares BI to ERP and ECM, neither of which play bs the same rules as BI.

SmartBiz implies at least that SaaS will make implementation times faster but doesn't offer any evidence -- lots of BI products are Web based anyway. Contrary to Forrester it claims that SaaS is better for dealing with large data volumes.

I suspect that SaaS is largely irrelevant to BI. A lot of the arguments pro and con seem more applicable to ERP that BI anyway. It may be that some SaaS vendor is successful in the market in the coming years, but it I don't think it will be because the vendor offers SaaS. It will be because it offers attractive BI features.
SAS business intelligence and business analytics
SAS's marketing people have started a discussion about the difference between business intelligence and business analytics -- whatever that means.

Here's a rather peppery take from Neil Raden.

James Taylor's not exactly new to the business, but he seems perplexed by SAS's marketing.

And Peter Thomas points out that SAS is attacking its own line of BI products.

Also talked to Michele Goetz about this, and she seems to be saying that SAS got it backwards -- BI is replacing business analytics!

That how the buzzword bubble works. A vendor or analyst looking for attention simply invents a new term or differentiates in a new way between terms and whole whole wave of discussions breaks loose. The upshot is that the company that started the discussion gets a lot of attention.

I think this is more legitimate for an analyst than for a vendor. After all, analysts are there to puzzle things out. Of course folks get carried away sometimes, and there are a lot more buzzwords out there than you really need to describe what's going on. But it's also true that new insights keep coming up and the market ghanges all the time.

It seems to name that a vendor would only have an excuse if
  1. It actually has some new product to sell.
  2. It decides to change its sales strategy.
Presumably SAS's goal was to get people talking about SAS, so that worked out pretty well. But changing your positioning is always a little uncomfortable for a vendor, because it leaves your customers asking what happened to the old positioning. Look at Microsoft's discomfort after it withdrew its planning tool. And in this case we get back to Peter Thomas's point -- if we take this seriously, what are we to think of SAS's BI products now?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The new BI Survey is hitting the market
It's fatter than ever this time around and like this guy says, the new edition serves up plenty of Nigel Pendse's trademark acuity.
Will the recession help business intelligence?
Well maybe it will, though I expect total IT outlays to decline. At least I would say that BI is a relatively recession proof business, because bad times tend to encourage people to think about where the money is going to.

Anyway BusinessWeek is hyping the meme. http://bit.ly/QcEa