IBM’s acquistion of Cognos is good news for niche BI vendors
Boy, it sure is a good time to own stock in providers of business intelligence/analytics software. Talk about mega-trends. As SSPA members have been very vocal about, companies have spent 10 years creating huge data stores of customer information, but can’t leverage it to do anything. The big enterprise application vendors recognized this and began acquiring standalone BI vendors to bring a needed dose of business intelligence to their transaction-heavy application suites.
Let’s look at some of the major acquisitions along the way:
- SSA Global (now Infor) acquired real-time customer intelligence/analytics vendor Epiphany in August, 2005.
- Oracle acquired Epiphany-offshoot and competitor Sigma Dynamics a year later in August, 2006.
- Oracle acquired Hyperion Solutions in March, 2007.
- SAP announced plans to acquire Business Objects last month.
This creates a quandary for SSPA members, who are trying to find general purpose analytic tools to help them deliver better business intelligence from their existing captured data. Since no large company has a single vendor’s technology across CRM, knowledgebase, web self-service, field service, etc., the fact that apps vendors are embedding better analytics into their suites doesn’t help. Most companies I talk to want a neutral third party analytics platform that can integrate to anything/everything.
If you are interested in a standalone, best of breed, BI platform, here’s who is left: SAS, MicroStrategy, Information Builders, SPSS and Actuate.
But to me, I think the fast consolidation is great news for specialists in specific business areas of BI, such as customer service. Clarabridge, who I just did a webcast with, has an amazing platform to analyze unstructured text in customer surveys, case notes, emails, and other feedback mechanisms, to derive ‘voice of the customer’ (VOC) BI. (Click here to view the OnDemand version of the Webcast.) Although IBM is investing in additional BI tools, they already have an offering targeting support: OmniFind, which not only provides VOC analysis, but also offers a module to track what people are saying about your products and companies in blogs, forums and social networks. On the voice side, Verint Witness Actionable Solutions and eTalk analyze recorded conversations to identify trends and customer sentiment on any topic.
I predict a lot of growth in this market segment in 2008, as business users become frustrated with general purpose tools and opt for technology specific to their day to day needs–something you will never get from BI suites as they are more deeply embedded in enterprise software suites.
What BI tools are you using, and how do you like them? If you are using one of the acquired products, what are your concerns? Please drop me a note or add a comment. And as always, thanks for reading!