Data, data everywhere, but how can organizations turn data into dollars? That’s the corporate cry from business analysts, IT executives, and marketers trying to squeeze intelligence from the mountains of data created by CRM and ERP software, point-of-sale systems, eCommerce sites, and multitudes of other enterprise systems. This data avalanche has accelerated the market for business intelligence (BI) tools and put pressure on vendors to assemble individual BI tools into seamless, single-vendor solutions: BI platforms. To help companies select the best BI platform for their needs, Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR) introduces Business Intelligence TechRankings™, the tenth category in Forrester’s TechRankings research of enterprise software markets.
For this TechRankings category, Forrester defines business intelligence platforms as software that provides data analysis and reporting tools to help people — and applications — make accurate, repeatable business decisions. Forrester invited all major companies in this market to take part in the product testing and evaluation process. Six vendors and products have participated as of October 25, 2002: Brio Software’s Performance Suite 8 BETA, Cognos’ Series 7 version 1, Crystal Decisions’ Crystal Enterprise 8.5, Microsoft’s SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition, MicroStrategy’s 7i version 7.2, and Oracle’s 9i with Business Intelligence.
“Business intelligence tools are hot because they help firms form a single ‘big picture’ view of overwhelming amounts of data to help them make better business decisions,” said Nate L. Root, analyst at Forrester. “Historically, BI vendors have only delivered focused BI technologies that solved a particular problem, like data mining or reporting, so BI buyers purchased many separate products from different vendors. This multivendor solution led to scattered BI strategies, increased training and support costs, and divergent versions of business metrics. Today’s BI platforms solve these problems by delivering a wide range of functionality — including reporting, OLAP analysis, and data mining — from a single vendor.”
Forrester recommends that prospective buyers compare BI platforms across three main criteria: functional capabilities (what can the product do?), infrastructure (how consistent is the platform across the product; is it designed for performance and reliability?), and vendor criteria (how are the vendor’s overall health, customer support policies, momentum, and product cost?).
For this TechRankings evaluation, Forrester and its research partner, Doculabs, Inc. (www.doculabs.com) evaluated products against more than 500 detailed criteria, from which it identified 10 key attributes that users should consider when evaluating business intelligence platforms.
- Data management. How sophisticated are the product’s data mining, modeling, and validation capabilities?
- Business specialization. How well does the product support various vertical and horizontal industries by providing prepackaged data models and industry-specific reports?
- Data mining and analytics. How sophisticated are the product’s tools for performing historical, real-time, and predictive analyses?
- Information delivery. How mature are the product’s capabilities for various outputs to multiple client interfaces, and how mature are its security and personalization features?
- Consistency. How well do the application’s modules work together? How robust are the product’s capabilities for administration of all components and functionality?
- Integration. How well does the product integrate with external data sources and software?
- Architecture. How strong is the product’s runtime environment in terms of high performance, reliability, and scalability?
- Globalization. How suitable is the product for use in non-English/US environments?
- Vendor strength. How strong is the vendor¿s presence in the business intelligence market and its support for its product?
- Cost. How much does the product cost, and how is it sold?
To learn more about business intelligence, click on the video or audio icon for Nate Root’s report, “How To Evaluate Business Intelligence Platforms.”
Launched in October 2000, TechRankings evaluates enterprise software products through rigorous hands-on scenario-based product testing, in-depth research and user interviews, and objective analysis of global vendor offerings. Since every BI platform implementation is unique, TechRankings lets clients use online tools to customize the research — and product evaluation rankings — to focus on the most important criteria and vendors for their projects.
Forrester invites all important vendors, based on their product fit and momentum, to participate. Forrester does not charge vendors in any way to participate in TechRankings. Forrester extensively checks and verifies results and updates the research with new vendor information.
Forrester offers TechRankings research, analysis, and selection services in ten software technology markets: application servers, business intelligence, business process management, commerce platforms, content management, customer service applications, enterprise portal servers, eProcurement applications, integration servers, and marketing automation applications. Forrester will continue to add important vendor evaluations and update the existing categories to reflect buyers’ evolving needs, in addition to adding new categories of software for evaluation. To learn more about TechRankings, visit www.forrester.com.