Ventana Research has just released the 2012 Value Index for Business Intelligence, in which we evaluate the competency and maturity of vendors and products. Our firm has been researching this software category for almost a decade. Our latestbenchmark research in business intelligence found that new technology advancements in business intelligence are critical to its future; more than two-thirds of organizations will use BI on mobile technology in the next year, and more than a fifth will do so with collaboration technology. Our benchmark research on organizations using this software not only uncovers best practices and trends, but also highlights what business expects from business intelligence and where IT can support business needs more effectively across a range of roles and processes. Moving beyond the model where IT delivers BI to business, this Value Index assesses what those in business need from business intelligence, from executives and management to analysts and managers.

I am excited to provide research and education on this critical information technology, which every organization needs to help leverage the value of information and analytics. The new Value Index for Business Intelligence looks at vendors and products and their suitability to an organization’s business and IT needs and priorities, which we tie to our benchmark research with input from organizations that are using or assessing the business intelligence.

The Ventana Research methodology utilizes a request for proposal and assessment approach. This specific value index took more than a year to complete; unlike other analyst firms, we look at the product details that have the most importance for successful adoption and support for a range of business and IT needs. We evaluated business intelligence vendors across seven critical categories that are essential for achieving planned benefits: usability, reliability, manageability, adaptability and capability of the products, and also the customer assurance areas of validation and TCO/ROI. We weight each category according to its priority to buyers, and sum the results to 100 percent for scoring purposes. In the process we identify best and worst practices that further refine how we assess technology vendors in each category. For instance, we place a higher emphasis on usability, manageability, reliability and capability since these are critical points of evaluation that can determine whether business intelligence successfully meets a broad set of business roles and IT needs across the enterprise. You can read the details of our methodology and process by purchasing the full 2012 Business Intelligence Value Index report, or by leveraging our assessment service to help guide your selections.

The Value Index analysis for business intelligence looks at a range of business and IT-specific factors, including data, analytics and optimization needs. We also examine the in-depth capabilities of products to model and assess data, to discover, interact, integrate, plan and predict based on analytics, and to optimize using collaboration, management and automation tools. We evaluate business users’ mobile, location and social collaborative needs, and their ability to not just review but act on and make decisions from business intelligence.

Our Value Index assesses 16 business intelligence software vendors and is most comprehensive in the industry. Eleven of them deserve to be rated Hot, which is the highest value level and demonstrates maturity of offerings. Information Builders ranks at the top, followed by SAP, IBM, MicroStrategy, Oracle, Actuate, QlikView, SAS, arcplan, Microsoft and Pentaho. Five vendors, InetSoft, Spago Solutions, Jaspersoft, LogiXML and Tibco, were rated as Warm.

We note in our analysis that Information Builders excelled across many categories, including adaptability, manageability and reliability. SAP follows Information Builders with a strong overall set of software and leads on capability and TCO/ROI. IBM has a strong Hot rating in capability and usability. MicroStrategy placed tops in usability and high in manageability and reliability. Many vendors do not yet have enough support for collaboration, mobile technology, goals and objectives, planning and forecasting – factors that are becoming increasingly important to organizations that want these capabilities from one supplier. All of the business intelligence providers continue to issue new releases annually or quarterly, which will help them advance in 2013.

Since our last assessment a lot has changed in dedicated business intelligence software, with new versions that advanced all categories of technology. Some vendors provide integrated planning. Some offer easy transition from Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. Some let users access and interact with back-end data from smartphones and tablets. Many offer better integration to data from within business intelligence software, and some let users write back and transfer data from within business intelligence to other systems. Many of the providers are increasingly improving visual discovery and other interactive techniques to model and apply advanced mathematics. Many are getting better at applying analytics to data within the business intelligence environment, and many are now supporting access to big data environments.

We take pride in our Value Index, and we believe it is cool to be a Hot vendor. Unlike us, IT-focused analyst firms that do not research or advise businesses that use business intelligence have limited insight to offer; our Value Index utilizes in-depth benchmark research to guide businesses through the evaluation process to meet real-world needs. Just rating a vendor on its revenue or vision is insufficient when organizations need to assess their current environments before they determine which vendors they should examine for future needs. We are the only research firm to evaluate vendors and provide practical advice that can help organizations assess and select their own business intelligence software.

Congratulations to the vendors that stood up to our detailed assessment processes and granular analysis, which represent how organizations assess and select vendors. We’re proud of our objective and in-depth analysis, which we publish without review or editing by the technology vendors, unlike other analyst firms. While some vendors may object to the results, our independence provides the basis for the most trusted research in the industry. If you want further information, please download the executive summary and see how the full report and assessment service can help your organization. We look forward to offering continued guidance to buyers in this critical information technology category, and helping business and IT professionals who need to have the most efficient processes for managing data.

Regards,

Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer