Better than free food at TDWI San Diego

Two BI leaders walk into the Sunday night reception at the TDWI conference in San Diego. Each is as eminent as you get in BI, and they hadn’t seen each other in months. After hello, they got into what’s more important to them than the free food. One says, “Business Objects and Cognos just don’t get it,” by which he meant all the once-standalone vendors that disappeared last year. As these companies get dragged further into the new parent, they’ll get it less and less.

The other added, “They don’t get collaboration, and they don’t get visualization…The big vendors just can’t innovate fast enough for the market…The next generation of BI will come from a new generation of vendors.”

I just happened to witness this conversation, but the same thoughts seemed to be just under the surface for several other industry experts I’ve talked to here.

On Monday, I talked to one of those innovators. LucidEra CEO Ken Rudin uses an analogy for business intelligence I like: owning a car shouldn’t require fixing it yourself. He hopes that within the next five years, conferences like TDWI’s deemphasize the technology and instead discuss effective metrics.

His company’s offer is intriguing. Give LucidEra access to your data, and within 48 hours his people will deliver two things: a full analytic environment in which you can see your data anew, plus the BI equivalent of an EKG.

Earlier Monday, Howard Dresner said after his keynote that there’s a “vacuum” of innovation and it’ll be filled from the little vendors who’re now sprouting.

This afternoon, Mark Madsen presented “Clues to the Future of Business Intelligence” at the Executive Summit. (See his slides here.) Among other clues, he compared the clumsy map of Oakland crime—developed by the city for more than $300,000—with an intuitive, almost Google-like map developed by a developer in his spare time. (The city’s response was to ban his IP to stop the developer from collecting data.)

The iPhone, the Mac, Google, YouTube and others have shown users much better interfaces than BI vendors have been delivering. And they’ve allowed people to interact online.

That’s what users expect of their BI interface now. He says it’s what they’ll demand.

One comment

  1. MikeD says:

    To use your analogy of a vehicle – BO and COGNOS have simply become family / fleet cars. I have worked with resellers of both products – on a technical level – and still do – and I have a few blog entries that highlight what I see as a major misconception. The BI brush is being used too liberally, as all we’re seeing happening is that these toolsets have become the de facto ‘reporting ‘ platforms for most organisations. When you look at the money, these accounts all concentrate on a numbers game – concurrent / named users or CPU – and this is the focus of their sales strategy. It’s not about ensuring that one small highly efficient actuarial type department gets a solution that is effective, but about ensuring that every clerk in the org has a report to refresh or import as excel. Sure there are some nifty recent addon’s, but the prime focus is in ensuring that these technologies encompass all reporting requirements thus entrenching themselves firmly in the overall IT infrastruture.
    I keep on reminding people about IMM (Information Maturity Model) and the need to elevate organisations up to real BI, but when comparing the volumes on top of the pyramid, to those further down, you can see where the prime sales and solution focus is going to be.

    From a technical level – it’s real swell having a huge all encompasssing architecture that can service and deliver different levels of “BI” solutions, but the very nature of the underlying framework and it’s focus on ensuring an 80/20 delivery, has the small groups of highly effective analysts look elsewhere to develop their solutions – a place where the technology is closer to them and the pace is alot faster, whilst being unencumbered by batch runs, mega processing and the administration of hundreds of users.

    We saw this with SAS way back before BI was an acronym – and the cycle has swung orgs back to where enabling the key analysts will see a separation from the enterprise reporting endeavors – and the analysts are more tech savvy and smarter than ever before, and virtual server access is almost the norm.

    Sure – it really looks good in a presentation to have all the nuts and bolts depicted in one all encompassing structure – that doesn’t mean the vendor is to be believed in only using his account to achieve this!

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