Wednesday, June 30, 2010

An early indicator from our ongoing Mobile BI Study

Hello Folks!

Thought I'd publish one early finding from my ongoing Mobile BI Market Study.

So, here is a top-level trend which indicates the importance that respondent organizations associate with mobile business intelligence.

As you can see, only a minority of organizations (18%) consider mobile BI to be "critical". Most consider mobile BI either "very
important" or "somewhat important".

Of course, the "devil is in the details" as they say. In other words, when you start filtering the data by geography, industry, size of company, role, etc. the picture varies dramatically.

I have also been surveying BI vendors regarding their current and future mobile BI capabilities and will compare and contrast these from vendor to vendor and with user plans. The complete findings and my analysis will be published by early August.

Data collection will end on July 9th.

If you're a user and haven't completed the survey yet, please click here to be directed to the site.



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mobile BI Market Study Update - Vendor Input

Hello Folks!

Our Mobile BI Market Study continues to move along quickly! We continue to collect lots of great user input and have been surprised by some of the early findings!

We are also collecting data from the BI vendors in the space - through a different survey instrument - that corresponds to the user survey.

Below are the vendors that I have reached out to. Those highlighted in blue have already completed the survey. Those in red have not.

My thanks to those vendors that completed the vendor survey.

  • Actuate
  • Birst
  • Dimensional Insight
  • GoodData
  • IBM/Cognos
  • Information Builders
  • Jaspersoft
  • MeLLmo
  • Microsoft
  • MicroStrategy
  • Oracle
  • Pentaho
  • PivotLink
  • QlikView
  • SAP/Business Objects
  • SAS Institute
  • Tableau
  • Tibco/Spotfire

If you know of other vendors that should be included, please let me know and I'll send them information to complete the survey.

If you're a user and haven't completed the survey yet, please click here to be directed to the site.



Monday, June 21, 2010

Mobile BI Market Study Update

Hello Folks!

Since I launched my Mobile BI Market Study last Thursday, the response has been very encouraging!

My plan is to provide a real-world perspective on mobile BI, collecting data from the following sources:

1) primary research from users surrounding intentions and perceptions
2) interviews with relevant BI vendors to understand their mobile BI strategies
3) customer interviews.

I will then synthesize all of this information and create a research report with my analysis of the findings. I will also support one or more webinars to review these findings.

Although we need more input, the primary research data to date are quite interesting, with the possibility for some real surprises!

Here are some of the demographics to date:

As you can see, most respondents come from the IT function. I can already see a difference between IT and business users, but need more end user input before I can declare it a trend.

Good mix of verticals, with more than a few technology companies.

Nice mix of size of companies, with a fairly large sample of smaller organizations. Once again, seeing some important differences emerging here too.

And, although most are from North American, good representation from other parts of the world.

My hope is to deliver this important research by the end of July. I will post updates to this schedule here.

My thanks to everyone that have already participated. If you have not done so yet, please click here to be directed to the survey.



Thursday, June 17, 2010

Launching: Mobile Business Intelligence Market Study

Hello folks!

Today I am launching a new market study, called the Wisdom of Crowds Mobile BI Market Study (TM). This comes on the heels of my widely acclaimed Wisdom of Crowds BI Market Study (TM).

Like my last study, I am reaching out to people using social media. This time our objective is to learn your perspective surrounding mobile business intelligence. With the advent of new devices (such as the iPad) it is possible that we're at a turning point in the industry - making mobile BI truly useful and more widely adopted. However, there is also a great deal of hype! Through this process we hope to develop a more accurate view of the perceptions and intentions surrounding mobile BI.

To participate in this study, please click here. The 16 question study will take about 5 minutes to complete and your individual information will be kept confidential!

Participants that complete the study will receive a summary report of the findings and will be entered into a drawing for a $100 gift card for either Amazon or iTunes.

I expect to complete my research by mid-July and will publish the findings and my analysis shortly thereafter.

Thanks in advance for participating in this important research project!



Friday, June 11, 2010

Trip Report: Microsoft's Business Intelligence Conference

Hello Folks!

I'm just back from Microsoft's BI Conference in New Orleans. It was great to back in town after so many years.

I have to say that I really enjoyed the event, which was actually an event within the larger TechEd conference. In general, it was well organized and run, with few hitches. Very good show floor - with

more than a few Microsoft competitors; pretty good food and excellent WiFi. While there I had some great discussions with Microsoft folks, customers, partners and fellow analysts.

Not sure what the official attendance was. However, my guess is about 10,000 attendees for TechEd, who were allowed to attend BI sessions but not vice versa. To help gauge it, the BI keynote was held in a very large auditorium and probably had 1,000 people. Breakout sessions had overflow rooms. My own presentation on performance-directed culture was oversubscribed and filled both main and overflow rooms. And, to my surprise, there were a good number of senior IT folks (some CIOs) as well as Finance and other business professionals there.

Product Stuff:

From a product perspective, there's certainly a lot to talk about. At the highest level, Microsoft's strategy for BI revolves around Office, SharePoint & SQL Server. Under each, there are many components and options.

For instance, SQL Server includes the core relational database, Reporting Services, Analysis Services (OLAP), Integration Services (ETL) and data mining. Microsoft is also readying its release of its data warehouse appliance, based on the DATAllegro technology it acquired in 2008.

Office now features a new Excel add-on called PowerPivot, which is an in-memory data structure - supporting extremely large data models, rapid data loading and advanced compression. There's more coming, too, including a new SilverLight-based visualization tool on top of PowerPivot.

In addition to its core function as a collaboration engine, SharePoint Services includes the remnants of PerformancePoint (e.g., dashboards, scorecards, etc.) and the ability to store, index, and share PowerPivot models.

What does this all mean?

While Microsoft is late to the game for many of these new capabilities, they help to make them “mainstream”. For instance, in-memory, columnar data structures have been around for a couple of decades that I'm aware of (e.g., TM/1, Dimensional Insight, QlikView). Next, data warehouse appliances, offering high performance through parallel loading and query have also been around for a long while (e.g., Teradata, Netezza), and so on. So, this is a good thing in that it helps to make it "safe" for IT to begin to embrace "new" approaches to BI that would have been anathema heretofore. This is not unlike the role that Microsoft played with the release of Analysis Services over 10 years ago, which made OLAP (then ~ 20 years old) "safe".

What's the apparent strategy behind it all?

It seems to me that Microsoft may be trying to be "all things to all people". Each one of its offerings could well stand by itself - yet they apply to different audiences. In a sense it represents a “battle” between “bottoms up” and “top down”.

By bottoms up I mean user-driven solutions, which oftentimes operate without the knowledge or management of the IT department. These users abhor control and limits. They want to be free to explore.

Top down, is the polar opposite of this – where IT (or a COE) designs, delivers and maintains solutions for users.

Typically, BI vendors cater to one or the other segment, but not both. In my recent Wisdom of Crowds BI Market Study ™, I identified three categories of BI vendors: Titans, Established Pureplays and Emerging Vendors. Most Titans and Pureplays support a top-down model, while Emerging Vendors align most closely with the bottoms-up model. In this sense, Microsoft is quite unique in that it has viable solutions for both. This also presents it with a problem.

Allow me to explain:

The bottoms-up phenomenon is best characterized by usage of Microsoft’s Excel. While we may malign Excel for the chaos that it encourages - we also love it for the freedom it gives to us. Microsoft, in my opinion, is the proverbial poster-child for bottoms up! And, Microsoft Office with PowerPivot takes it to the next level. In fact, users may not even need a warehouse or multi-dimensional cubes anymore. They can quickly load large sets of operational data right into PowerPivot and start slicing, dicing and analyzing. It's also worth noting that PowerPivot (IMHO) and the advanced Silverlight viewer were probably the two technologies showcased at the event that generated the most excitement. And, given Microsoft's dominion over the spreadsheet market, it's likely to be a high-volume selling product.

In contrast, SQL Server and SharePoint Server appeals more so to the IT Department. They are robust yet complex products, requiring IT technical skills for design, implementation and support. They further the IT Department’s mission to standardize models and enforce policy surrounding user access and interactions. In this scenario, dashboards and scorecards are designed and built using PerformancePoint and Analysis Services and are delivered broadly (and consistently) to management and users across an enterprise via SharePoint Services.

Both are valid models. However, the question in my mind is: would using all of these classes of products work well together in organizations where the users and IT are not all singing from the same hymnal? Probably not!

I can imagine a scenario where:

- IT creates a relational data warehouse for users and generates some standard cubes in Analysis Services.

- To drive adoption, IT follows conventional wisdom, and gives users “free rein” to create and share objects in SharePoint.

- Users download data from SQL or Analysis Services and create extensive PowerPivot models and then share them via SharePoint - where they are extended, modified and enhanced - enterprise-wide (much more efficient than email or simple file sharing).

- These end-user models become the primary data source for analysis and decision-making (not SQL or Analysis Services)!

- So, what has given Excel a bad reputation can now be done on a far grander scale with Excel and PowerPivot!

This is not to say that Microsoft ought to abandon its bottoms-up or top-down BI product-line. However it must recognize its unique position in the market and deal with the fact that users and IT buy BI products for different reasons and in different ways. Trying to position the entire BI product stack to both constituencies simply doesn’t reflect the reality of the situation.

In the end, Microsoft needs to figure out who their customer is: user or IT - and then sell to one - not both. Sales and marketing messages should be bifurcated into user and IT and not try to sell benefits of one to the other.

I'll be digging into some key market trends and doing a deep dive into vendor and product rankings - including Microsoft - at my upcoming Wisdom of Crowds BI Market Study Webinar (TM) on June 22nd. Hope to see you there!!!!

And, of course, your comments are always welcomed!



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