A good business intelligence (BI) software application is like a glass-bottomed boat, offering managers (with the courage to look) a clear view from C-level on down to the ocean floor of their business data. According to Ben Barnes, Hewlett-Packard's general manager for BI, the overall market rakes in about $50 billion per year, is increasing at double-digit rates and ranks near the top of many IT budget priority lists.
Why all this fuss over data drilling? According to BI vendor Information Builders, most businesses access only 20% of their data and deliver it to 10% of the people who need it. Also, a report from analyst firm IDC states that 70% of enterprise content is recreated rather than reused, making companies spend two times the resources for one set of data. All this waste is pushing information-starved executives looking for a competitive edge to BI as a strategic way to collate and consume company and market intelligence in a timely and effective manner.
Offerings range from those offered by the BI "big four" leaders (Business Objects, Cognos, SAS and Oracle-owned Hyperion) to their market challengers (Microsoft, SAP, IBM, Infor, etc.) to the vast assembly of Web-hosted BI portals (such as those offered by Ignify, Q4Bis, Synergex, LucidEra and others) to tailored, niche-oriented solutions (Discovery 6.0 from food/beverage BI provider IRM is one example).
This already lucrative market is primed to heat up even further, as more takeovers and new software innovations (such as LogiXML's "mashup" integration of geographical data into its Web-based BI platform) spur both BI providers and consumers to new heights of seamless data access and productive potential.