Big players take on best of breed in BI battle

BI still a misunderstood term

Many of the industry's biggest players are beefing up their business intelligence (BI) offerings on the back of escalating demand in the Australian market.

BI will be a hot priority throughout 2007 in the local market, according to both Hewlett Packard and Oracle.

However, Gartner analyst Ian Bertram is warning customers to be wary of how the generic solutions by the larger players compare to best of breed providers such as Cognos, Business Objects, Hyperion and SAS Insitute.

Bertram said the term BI is over-used by vendors trying to capitalize on high demand.

While last year saw Microsoft undertake a serious BI push, last week HP announced the establishment of a Business Intelligence Optimization unit (BIO) within its new software division.

Tapping the BI and information management market will allow HP to boost revenue by expanding its foothold in existing accounts, newly appointed VP of the BI group, Ben Barnes, said.

However, HP has been slow in providing details about the unit and its strategy plans. A HP Australia spokesperson was unable to confirm when the local BI unit will be established in Australia or provide staff numbers.

The unit's flagship product will be internally developed data warehousing technology. Last October HP began to ship its new data warehousing technology, NeoView, which was developed as part of an ongoing internal HP effort to consolidate more than 700 data marts into an enterprise data warehouse.

Gartner's Bertram said the unit's title may be deceptive unless the company beefs-up its BI capability to be on par with its information management capability.

"BI is an overused and misunderstood term [that] is fading into obscurity," Bertram said. "HP is misleading people by dubbing the unit as a business intelligence unit because it is still underdeveloped."

Bertram said HP will need to draw on the BI expertise of recently acquired BI vender Knightsbridge Solutions if it opens a local BIO unit.

"HP may need to bring Knightbridge staff over from the US to kick-start the unit, while they would need to export its intellectual property if they want to be a true BI unit," he said, pointing out that the company relies on partnerships with competitors Cognos, Business Objects and Hyperion for BI visualisation and reporting.

While HP builds it BI reputation, it may find redemption in its information management department, Bertram says, predicting that the company may expand the BI unit around data integration and management, extracting, transforming and loading (ETL), and data quality solutions.

Oracle is taking a similar approach to HP and is looking to tap into its existing customer base.

The company's ANZ technology VP Rob Gosling said Oracle is an information company.

"If you look at a five year plan we can offer a greater footprint so customers can deal with fewer vendors; today it is a stack war," Gosling said adding that BI, identity management and middleware are currently the hot technologies in the local market.

- with Sandra Rossi

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