Of BI and Baseball: Two Reports Present Vendor and Product Standings - InformationWeek

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8/11/2008
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Of BI and Baseball: Two Reports Present Vendor and Product Standings

It ain't over till it's over, and Forrester and BIScorecard reports say the business intelligence playoffs are a long way off.

We're a long way from the business intelligence equivalent of the MLP Pennant race, so don't count on it coming down to the "big four" vendors.

Neither Forrester Research nor BIScorecard used baseball terminology in their latest reports on the BI market, but the analogy is apt, and these pundits seem to be saying, "Hey, it's still August!"

Both reports place SAP's Business Objects unit, IBM's Cognos unit, Oracle and Microsoft in contention. But the rankings also place independents including SAS and MicroStrategy among the leaders, and they point to interesting wild-card possibilities including Actuate and QlikTech.

Forrester Shares Stats

Forrester BI Wave
"The Forrester Wave: Enterprise Business Intelligence Platforms, Q3 2008," report, released July 31, rates a dozen BI products and vendors. SAP Business Objects, IBM Cognos, Oracle and SAS are in the "Leaders" wave (see diagram above). The second "Strong Performers" Wave features Information Builders, MicroStrategy, Microsoft, SAP NetWeaver BI, Actuate and TIBCO Spotfire, in that order.

One of the most notable characteristics of Forrester's latest rankings is that eight of the 12 vendors are in close proximity on horizontal "strategy" axis.

"The gist of this latest Wave report is that in terms of vision, all of the large BI vendors really 'get it,'" says analyst and report author Boris Evelson. "They understand that they have to be working on things like process-centric BI, analysis of unstructured data and linking BI to the [business user] workspace."

The biggest differentiation is on the vertical, product-focused "current offering" axis, which indicates progress toward fulfilling strategic vision. How does Forrester's Wave compare with Gartner's most recent "Magic Quadrant" analysis of BI, published in February? For one thing, Microsoft and MicroStrategy didn't make it into Forrester's more selective Leaders group, but Evelson says the biggest difference lies in the open ranking approach.

"The major difference between our Wave and other reports is that underneath the Wave there is a very detailed, open and transparent spreadsheet of our evaluation criteria," Evelson says. "Clients can change the weightings to customize the report" and use it to develop request-for-proposal and request-for-information documents.

The spreadsheet accompanying Forrester's Wave includes zero to five (weak to strong) ratings of 12 characteristics. Four of those ratings concern the current product offering, three assess vendor strategy and five ratings examine vendor market presence.

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