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The battle for business analytics rages on. IBM, Oracle, SAP and SAS as billion dollar and larger companies each combine analytic computation and processing in the underlying data but Teradata remains a key player. For its part Teradata used its annual Partners conference to tout the next generation of analytics in its product portfolio and brought along customers to testify to their success in using its technology.
Teradata now has released capabilities that I previewed in my analysis of last year’s conference. Version 13.10 of its database has new capabilities that are integrated and easily managed with technology from its partners to address customers’ specific needs. This point is important as partnering has contributed to the success Teradata has had in retaining, competing for and winning opportunities to sell its analytics. Teradata also brought forward a new portfolio of analytics. Version 13.10 adds temporal support and geospatial data types, and the Aggregate Designer tool can help prepare analytics and they also provide direct access to the Teradata database from Microsoft Excel that uses technology from its partner Simba. It also has new methods for application development in the Teradata Plug-in for Eclipse that is being supported by partnership with Karmasphere and provides the ability to deploy Hadoop and MapReduce applications with Teradata. In addition Teradata Profiler enables new forms of data discovery and exploration, and partner Tableau has found a unique method to do this directly against Teradata. Also Teradata realizes the importance of so-called “big data,” which it has been dealing with since its inception, and now is developing integration points with Hadoop, the increasingly popular big-data technology recently covered by my colleague. And Teradata Viewpoint simplifies enterprise deployments by automating updates and installs across multiple instances of Teradata.
Teradata is also working to make it easier to integrate data across applications and tools through Teradata Unified LDM, which provides a common business data model for sharing metadata wherever needed. This effort also can help consistency in data governance; as our benchmark research found, metadata and master data management are critical components for effective data governance.
Teradata 13.10 operates across a family of appliances and server technology that has been expanding in options and robustness using the processing power of Intel’s Xenon chip technology. These platforms for processing and storing data and performing analytics range from the Extreme Data Appliance 1650 that can scale to 187 petabytes to the Extreme Performance Appliance 4600 that uses solid-state drive technology to reduce processing time from milliseconds to microseconds. Teradata has five lines of appliances and servers that are being adopted by some of the largest companies in the world. The investment by Teradata for large scale data computing has been recognized for decades that is beginning to even further open up for embedding analytics like SAS and others more easily into the technology.
As analytics evolve, Teradata is targeting areas where it can harness the power of analytics from partners such as SAS and with Information Builders to integrate its BI product WebFocus and its predictive analytics RStat with Teradata for midsize organizations. Teradata also announced support and integration for SAP’s BusinessObjects On-Shelf Availability application. In the realm of industry-specific business analytics applications, there is further support for enterprise risk reporting, quality management for healthcare, sales analysis for retail, customer analysis and retention for telecommunications, and readiness assessment for defense and security.
Though they are not as well known in the industry, Teradata has continued to advance its efforts for the lines of business and cross-industry solutions such as tax and revenue management, supply chain management, enterprise risk management and financial management. In the area of marketing, Teradata Relationship Manager has advanced as my colleague assessed for lead management, customer data management and integration with e-mail and across Web services. All these efforts show that Teradata is much more than only a data warehouse or appliance provider.
Our coordinated benchmark research on business analytics of various kinds and across industries used by thousands of organizations finds that organizations have much room for improvement when it comes to rationalizing data or consuming analytics. Teradata’s Active Enterprise Data Warehouse approach to analytics has been proven well. In fact organizations using Teradata have been awarded the Ventana Research Leadership Awards because of the value they have delivered using business intelligence or what we call information applications. Of course there are always ways to improve, and I would like to see Teradata embrace complex event processing (CEP) to bring further real-time processing to its portfolio and perhaps partner with IBM, iWay Software, SAP or Vitria to leverage technologies already in the market that is part of what we call Operational Intelligence. I also would like to see Teradata embed more of the BI platform and tools within its appliances and servers to further solidify the integration of information management and analytics with business intelligence and streamline efforts. Despite these personal thoughts on advances, it is clear to me that Teradata continues to progress in bringing sophisticated technology to market.
Mark Smith – CEO & EVP Research
At its 2010 user conference in Miami, Plateau Systems reviewed for analysts its progress in the market for talent management software. Plateau has a unified platform and suite of applications that cover learning, compensation, job performance and analytics. The company’s financials have been steadily growing as more customers adopt its platform and show good year-to-year growth in its applications that are rented through software as a service (SaaS). Plateau claims that its SaaS business has customer retention of 99 percent. The conference itself grew 40 percent from the previous year, with about 500 people in attendance, and Plateau has started a European conference that provided a local event for the first time.
The company has continued to invest in developing its technology, as I have observed (See: “Plateau Advances Talent Management in the Cloud”), and adding to its portfolio. Recently Plateau released version 6, which has advances in goal alignment, administrator tools and unifying compensation for short- and long-term incentives. Plateau’s suite is built on a single code base to serve large and midsize enterprises; this Plateau Foundation is designed to scale with interfaces and extensions that enable efficient operations of the applications as a company grows. This base is part of the reason why the company has been able to release updated applications every six months.
Plateau spent some time showing industry analysts improvements in the usability and segmentation of the applications across roles for employees, managers and administrators. The applications’ interfaces now include to-do lists, type-ahead, spell-checking, adaptive flows and other ease-of-use touches. The applications facilitate navigation across tasks and goals and enable examining talent and building pools of human capital for new assignments and initiatives. These investments in what they call ‘user experience’ and I just call usability should pay off for Plateau as the seamless flow and simplicity are key points for distinguishing its value in evaluations.
The company also announced Plateau Anywhere to provide offline capabilities on mobile platforms. This product addresses the challenge that for many SaaS applications the user must be online, which of course is not always possible. The design also brings a sleeker interface for reviewing to-do lists, catalogues of content, approvals, discussion forums and other items that often are required offline. Plateau has designed the capabilities to fit the form factor of mobile devices and is considering whether to design native capabilities for specific mobile platforms. Once this product is accessible by anyone with their mobile technology, the product will get more recognition and adoption.
In addition Plateau has advanced its efforts in analytics, adding robust report writing and sophistication in its layout. The technology is built on BIRT open source technology that provides an integrated approach to workforce analytics. Plateau Analytics has admirable simplicity, but the vendor needs to integrate workforce data from across systems in both cloud and enterprise in a more automated manner, which is necessary to support broader analytics and even workforce planning.
Plateau is growing partly because of its ability to cross-sell its applications to existing customers of its learning application and is gaining new customers that see the value of integrating compensation and performance applications with learning to facilitate performance improvement. The combination of these applications and workforce analytics makes a solid foundation for talent management on which Plateau can compete aggressively with Saba, Success Factors, SumTotal Systems and Taleo. It looks like 2011 will be a critical year for Plateau to see if it can break out of the pack and grow faster than others.
Mark Smith – CEO & EVP Research