Landscape of business intelligence market changes in six months

Published 27 March 2008

A campaign of acquisitions by IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP has changed the look of the business intelligence market in the last six months; The Big Four’s market moves were driven by the growing BI hype, the need for self-preservation, and even some fear

Big-ticket acquisitions and consolidations in the business intelligence (BI) market were the most notable events of 2007. IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP (now known as the “megavendors”) staked their claims in the BI market, spending billions on top-tier BI and performance management vendors such as Cognos, Business Objects, and Hyperion. The pace of acquisition and conglomeration was so fast, that in a matter of just six months the BI market assumed a very image than the one we used to see earlier. CIO correctly points out that today, the number of large independent BI vendors has dwindled, though many niche players continue to stream into the space. The four technology behemoths, with their prized acquisitions, now “control the fortunes of the BI and business performance solutions markets,” write Forrester Research’s Boris Evelson and Paul Hamerman in a December 2007 report.

The Big Four’s market moves were driven by the growing BI hype, the need for self-preservation, and even some fear. Though Microsoft did not make any deals which were as splashy as the other megavendors, its acquisitions in the BI market did not go without notice, say analysts. “There are some who believe Microsoft pushed the others to make these big acquisitions because Microsoft was bundling all these BI capabilities into their OS platforms,” says Walter Lee, an analyst at Burton Group, “forcing these other [vendors] to acquire extensive BI capabilities on their own.” Going forward, the Forrester analysts say that IT departments and BI decision-makers should expect more of the same, though that might seem hard to imagine after the M&A action last year. “Forrester believes that the BI and business performance solutions markets will continue to consolidate around these four large vendors but will not be commoditized anytime soon,” states the Forrester report.

To help readers make sense of all the recent change, CIO offers an alphabetical list of several leading BI vendors (and one on the outside looking in, with much interest) as well as snapshots of each of their strengths, weaknesses, and prospective strategies for the future.