BI consolidation first hand

Al Cherdak, an independent developer of enterprise software, has been seeing BI consolidation first hand. It’s killing innovation, he says, and the Big Guys will save themselves by fixing it.

His software—called Personal Data Warehouse—essentially hotwires operational data bases, offers a quick scrub of the incoming data, and aligns tables to appear as if it had come from one source. How can users be trusted? “Users know their data,” he says. (See BI Roadmap author Larissa T. Moss’s view of the “personal data warehouse.”)

He’s been trying to find a partner to market his creation. Though he’s shown it to dozens of prospective partners, and though most have said it’s exactly what the masses of dissatisfied BI users scream for every day, each has ultimately had to decline.

One executive was about to jump in. But a little later when Al asked, “What’s the next step?” the executive answered, “There is no next step. We’ve just been acquired by IBM.” He’s seen it happen repeatedly.

Al has been reflecting. “I sit there and scratch my head,” he says. “Why am I having such trouble?”

His would-be buyers, all execs and owners of small companies, tell him that even though they love the software, they can’t just don’t have the bandwidth to make use of it. They’ve got a framework set up already, and they can’t afford to veer.

The larger companies, which can afford it, also have a framework in place. But they too, in another way, can’t afford to veer.

It’s just hell on the independent innovator — and that’s going to kill the big companies if it continues, says Al.

Is he kidding? Kill the big companies?

Perhaps, if their ecosystem dries up. An important part of that ecosystem, says Al, are the little guys on the margin. What if they find out there’s no jackpot? They would still be lured by that same vision, but the drag from the naysayers (there are always plenty) pulls them down harder and harder.

Here’s Al’s solution for the Big Guys: fund tiny companies. Lure 20 or 30 visionary programmers with a $2 or $3 million apiece to spend five or ten years sweating over code in a way they’d never do it for Big Blue. Have a deal with each that if they’re successful they’ll get to cash out. Even if there’s just one home run among them, it would pay off for the giants.

Why not spend the same money on their own, current programmers?

“It’s a very personal thing to the creators of the tools. A lot of these guys see themselves as entrepreneurs. They don’t want to limit themselves. They don’t want to work for somebody else.”

Al should know.

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