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Will the Consolidation in the BI Tools World Hurt or Help the Rank-and-File BI User?
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Will the Consolidation in the BI Tools World Hurt or Help the Rank-and-File BI User?

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This week's BI question comes from David Linthicum, who asks how consolidation in the BI tools world will affect users. What do you think?

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  • Consolidation with Software Product Companies in general sets back innovation and meeting real users' needs. Now consolidation in BI tools companies will make sure that emerging needs of BI users like real-time BI, user-directed BI collection, ad-hoc analysis and mining applications will all have large company speeds - crawling to zero mph!

  • In the near-term, BI vendor consolidation has a stifling effect on innovation - at least the innovation that comes from those vendors that have consolidated. This is because of the relatively lengthy period of product roadmap rationalization that is necessary to make the combined companies products work together. The result is not new innovation, but "sideways" work that is necessary but not advancing.

    In the longer-term, BI vendor consolidation benefits innovation by encouraging other vendors (including new entrants) to find new ways to solve new BI problems using new technologies and techniques. Just a few examples that are currently prominent: in-memory analysis that reduces the need for costly OLAP cubes, columnar data storage engines that both improve the performance and dramatically reduce the cost of storing and analyzing very large amounts of data, search-oriented BI techniques that enable end-users to begin their reporting and analysis journey from a common, comfortable location (search interface). The most innovative work around these technologies and techniques did not start with and is not being advanced by the mega-vendors that have been consolidated.

    Like any organic process, innovation flows and continues. It just does so from a new venue. I believe this process should encourage all BI users to now look for new, nimbler, more modern BI tools where innovation is alive and well.

  • I am in agreement with Brian's comments - especially regarding the longer-term benefits of consolidation and the ability for newer entrants and smaller players to fill the gaps that may exist because of consolidated offerings. One of the things that consolidating enables - whether purposely or as a by-product - is the ability to see gaps regarding unique business applications or customized offerings that consolidation may overlook. Hopefully, as consolidations continue, general innovation will also continue to complement solution offerings in the industry, enabling organizations to take advantage of both approaches or options.

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