The Red Hot Business Intelligence Vendors for 2012 Revealed in Value Index

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.


Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer

SAP Provides Facts over Fiction on SAP HANA and Launches NetWeaver in the Cloud

At the SAP TechEd conference in Las Vegas this week, the global software giant unveiled the latest versions of its technology, platforms and applications across the cloud, mobile and on premises. SAP executive Vishal Sikka followed up in person to his written response to the statements Oracle CEO and Chairman Larry Ellison made at Oracle OpenWorld on the limited nature of SAP’s HANA in-memory computing technology. Sikka presented a SAP HANA server with 100 terabytes of DRAM processing 1 petabyte of raw data to counter Ellison’s commentary, and Oracle has yet to release its comparable Exadata X3 appliance. SAP also announced that SAP HANA Cloud is available in Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide anyone the opportunity to use the technology, though the AWS version will be limited in the size of data it can process in its in-memory environment. Amazon’s Andy Jassy, the senior vice president of AWS, spoke about the company’s work with SAP to advance cloud computing’s utility for developers.

In truth, appliances and in-memory computing have varying use case scenarios. Our big data benchmark research finds a place for both approaches. They are just about even in demand, and our research finds that those who provide the highest business value in the shortest period of time will gain the most adoption.

SAP also unveiled its rearchitected SAP NetWeaver Cloud platform as a server for use across the Internet. SAP announced free developer licenses for NetWeaver, designed to help build a community of cloud developers. However, SAP lacks a simple port and transfer from on-premises applications to the cloud edition; an organization’s applications will require some adjustments to migrate across these environments though its data services can help transport data from the platforms.

The HANA Cloud and NetWeaver Cloud announcements indicate SAP’s commitment to cloud computing, where Oracle and also compete. SAP uses open source and standards-based interfaces with SAP NetWeaver, such as the Eclipse IDE, which helps developers ease into this environment while extending it for a range of interoperability with other SAP technologies and applications.

After some analysis and detailed conversations with product executives, I started to assemble use case examples of how the technologies could work together, and began to see how a common set of data services across the technologies work. Meanwhile, SAP is working to provide more data integration and information management services that can interoperate between the cloud and on-premises environments that is probably one of their largest technology challenges. SAP will need to provide more clarity to help developers and IT management understand how these technologies operate to ensure it will be considered for developing and deploying applications in the cloud.

Also at TechEd, SAP demonstrated a new AppDesigner product for application assembly. It deploys HTML5-based applications that can be accessed from mobile platforms, including Apple and Android smartphones and tablets. SAP executive Sanjay Poonen outlined advancements that provide more in-depth application and data-level security, which our newest benchmark into next-generation business intelligence found to be the top technology concern for making business analytics and metrics available on mobile technology. SAP’s approach – to reach multiple mobile platforms – is important, as our recent benchmark on technology mobility for workers and managers found a growing volume of mobile device deployments in organizations. To support tablets with its applications, SAP also announced the release of its EPM Unwired applications, which provide support for a range of finance and operational management issues today. Coming soon it promises a mobile application for business planning that operates via HTML5 or via a native application for Apple’s iPad. These are important steps forward for SAP, which provides a broad range of mobile applications that complement and extend its existing cloud and on-premises applications.

SAP also discussed of the upcoming SAP HANA SP5. It will support the OLTP and OLAP needs of organizations, and further integrate in the enterprise. I got some insights on HANA Studio and how it has advanced business process management toward what the company calls operational process intelligence. SAP aims to be as open as possible in terms of the hardware on which it can operate. It has configurations with Cisco, Dell, Hitachi, HP, IBM, Fujitsu and NEC hardware, and is creating a certification program to ensure it can operate anywhere where there is market demand. This approach will make SAP HANA a very open platform for big data, which is the complete opposite of the engineered approach by Oracle, which is pushing its single integrated platform for software, hardware and storage.

I have been tracking the technology and customer advancements with SAP HANA since its introduction in 2011 at SAPPHIREAt this year’s SAPPHIRE SAP hinted that SAP HANA and SAP NetWeaver would be transitioning to cloud technologies; now that has been officially unveiled. SAP continues to execute on SAP HANA technology advancements and its other platforms and applications for cloud computing. It now faces a mindshare battle for the attention of developers and IT management. It will have to reassess its efforts at SAP TechEd to ensure they are on par with if not better than those at Oracle OpenWorld and Salesforce Dreamforce and Cloudforce events. My assessment, after attending these events, is that SAP has some work to do to gain the attention of this audience. SAP will also need to gain more commitment from its consulting, systems integration and software partners. They lacked any significant presence at SAP TechEd, but should see the new services as a great opportunity to be part of a new generation of cloud computing.

As for the rest of SAP TechEd, I found a significant focus on cloud and mobile computing, with less attention provided to areas like business intelligence and information management. The company did demonstrate SAP Visual Intelligence, which provides a critical component of business analytics for analysts who need to perform root cause analysis and exploratory tasks on large volumes of data, which is not possible in tradition BI with its chart and tables. This visual discovery offering is critical, as it is one of the capabilities not available to more than a third (37%) of organizations doing big data computing today, according to our big data benchmark research.

Bottom line, if you are a CIO or part of the developer and IT organization, you should learn about SAP’s advancements in cloud and in-memory computing. SAP is investing heavily in these areas in order to build a foundation for the future of its business applications, no matter whether customers want to run them in the cloud or on mobile platforms.

Meanwhile, you can catch my live commentary from the event on Twitter with the #SAPTechEd hashtag and my handle @MarkSmithVR.


Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer