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What is the Future of Innovation in Business Intelligence?

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Nari Kannan: What is the future of Innovation in Business Intelligence? With BI companies already in the fold of larger companies - Business Objects, Hyperion, Cognos owned by SAP, Oracle and IBM respectively, is the future of innovation in the hands of startups and smaller companies again?

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  • Innovation in the business intelligence space will come from many places including the larger players like IBM and Oracle along with startups and even researchers in academia. No business intelligence team or company is without an opportunity to innovate. The real question is will the innovation be disruptive or considered critically important to the target market, in this case buyers of business intelligence solutions.

    Every so often, we see a shift in technology that will be the catalyst for innovation. Today, SaaS, cloud computing, social computing and mobile computing are examples of popular new computing models that present an opportunity for innovation in business intelligence. An example might be adding a level of social collaboration to a business intelligence solution or developing new business intelligence solutions to address the topic of mobile analytics.

    Every once in a while the business intelligence market experiences the birth of "disruptive innovation", and with each instance comes a set of early adopters who have the vision and belief that being an early adopter of disruptive technology will deliver a set of compelling advantages for their enterprise or startup. Beyond technical innovation, these advantages may include total cost of ownership benefits, a stronger competitive offering and a reduction in time to market for their application or products.

    These early adopters forge ahead where others would stay with the status quo. These are the visionaries who get the job done in the face of resistance from others. They quickly become “champions� or “evangelists� for the new technology both internally and externally. Vendors with disruptive innovation rely on these champions to help build momentum in the industry, and with market success comes strong recognition for its champions as well. How many times have you heard someone say, “it will never happen�, and it does?

    The good news, innovation is alive and well in the business intelligence space and there are several examples from not only large companies like IBM with their ManyEyes project or early stage startups like LyzaSoft.

  • There will be a mass extinction event in the Business Intelligence space in the coming decade. Established vendors are attempting to cope with demands for bigger scale (tera- & petabyte sized data sets, a la Google), faster speed (near- & real-time query responses), and deeper smarts (shifting from classical statistics to modern machine-learning, a la NetFlix).

    Business Intelligence vendors have kept the 'business' part of their promise, but they have failed on the 'intelligence' half. This has left them vulnerable to disruption by self-described analytics players -- ranging from SAP, SAS, to open-source frameworks like R -- who are pushing firms beyond reporting to leverage the massive, yet largely untapped potential of their data assets.

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