Vendors Confident on Business Intelligence

SINGAPORE (04/19/2000) - The growing prominence of electronic business is in turn resulting in brisk growth for the business intelligence (BI) market, according BI vendors and analysts Computerworld spoke with. BI is the process of accessing and presenting to end-users information which has been stored in a data warehouse, or relational databases.

According to research firm Ovum, the demand for BI products and services is expected to top US$50 billion worldwide within the first few years of the next millennium. And a key driver is e-business.

"E-business demands application integration, which needs enterprise information management, and quick information on what the market or customers want, which business intelligence provides," said Himanshu Dayal, of International Data Corp. (IDC). "It is a question of consolidating processes and data, to draw out real-time information about the market."

Of a similar opinion is Cognos' Sam Clarke, vice president, Asia-Pacific.

E-business has been a key driver for the company's record results for its fiscal year 2000, which ended February. Revenue for the quarter set a new record at US$118.1 million, a 36 percent increase over revenue of $86.9 million for the same period last year.

According to Clarke, this growth is mirrored in Asia-Pacific which saw revenues of $30 million, a 50 percent increase from the previous financial year.

"Asia-Pacific reflects this worldwide growth. Some countries like Korea grew 100 percent," he said.

With similar results are Brio Technology and Seagate Software, who both had growth of at least 50 percent in Asia-Pacific last year.

"Our performance has been good across Asia Pacific... with significant growth and penetration of new markets. We've had an increased adoption rate of 56 percent," said Lee Boon Huat, director, South Asia, Seagate Software.

"We did grow about 50 percent in Asia-Pacific last year, as the market has started to recognize our name," said Ces van Heemert, regional director AP, Brio Technology.

In Asia, this dramatic growth could also be due to a post year 2000 effect.

"Companies have bounced back after the economic crises, and understand that they need to have better systems in place to get quicker growth. People used to be the issue, as it was less expensive to hire people (than invest in IT in Asia). But now they understand that information about business can give a competitive edge," explained Gari Johnson, director of marketing, Asia-Pacific region, Cognos.

Customers are also adopting Web-based BI solutions, instead of the traditional client/server model. This has in turn resulted in a significant increase in the number of large enterprise orders, and also allowed a company's data to be consolidated in one location.

"Web-based products are popular at the moment as it has proven to be an effective delivery and access mechanism to corporate information, provide increased "mobility" to information in the workplace, and enhanced speed and convenience," commented Lee.

"With client/server technology, it was impossible to roll out the software to hundreds of thousands of people. But with the Internet, that is possible, and issues like training and support can be operationally more efficient, as it can be done from a Web site," said Clarke. This resulted in a much larger pool of BI users, and faster deployment, as "the educational issues are fixed up a lot better," eliminating the necessity of training users in different countries.

There have also been more mid-sized companies adopting BI, according to van Heemert of Brio. "It has mainly been the middle sized and larger companies which have started data warehouse projects. There is also a trend of more middle-sized companies using BI," he said.

"The 90's organization is flattened, with people lower down in the organization expected to make decisions (not just the managers)," said Johnson. "It is the concept of BI on every desktop." "Enterprise resource planning software, operating systems and databases have become commodities. We see the trend where data marts are likely to become commodities," said Clarke.

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