Zhanna Abzaltynova & Janice Williams , pp. 115. MAM/Sektionen för Management, 2009.
Business Intelligence (BI) is a broad category of applications and technologies for gathering, providing access to, and analyzing data for the purpose of helping enterprise users make better business decisions. The term implies having a comprehensive knowledge of all of the factors that affect your business. It is imperative that you have an in depth knowledge about factors such as your customers, competitors, business partners, economic environment, and internal operations to make effective and good quality business decisions. Business intelligence enables you to make these kinds of decisions. BI technology allows organizations to track, understand, and manage vital business information. BI is assuming an increasingly strategic role as more organizations look for ways to tap into the valuable data stored in their operational systems.
In today’s economy the requirements for Business Intelligence environments are changing, and quite dramatically. Consequent to this paradigm, this research paper tested these hypothetical constructs. Hypothesis one sought to test if vendors seek to provide complete BI solutions following all four stages of the CI cycle. In terms of the support of CI cycle phases; BI vendors were grouped according to the overall performance of four (4) phases (planning & directing, data collection, analysis and dissemination). The evaluation of BI vendors indicates that all vendors examined do not support planning & directing phase, except for Astragy that gives users a consultations to plan and arrange their CI, its absence did not influence the overall performance score. Information Builders and SAP Business Objects excel in data collection phase; SAS Institute and QlikView are the best in analysis; SAP Business Objects and IBM Cognos surpass in dissemination phase. It should be noted that Astragy was evaluated along with other vendors though it does not provide any BI functions but only provide common functions for supporting the CI cycle phases.
The second hypothesis sought to test if BI vendors fail to provide good enough solutions for the analysis part of the intelligence cycle. The research findings indicate that only two BI vendors, SAS and QlikView, delivering the analysis phase of the intelligence cycle in a proper way. The overall findings also indicate that BI vendors fail to provide good enough solutions for the analysis part of the intelligence cycle as total average score provided by the evaluation instrument (see Figure 17) among BI vendors for the analysis phase fell below the average scores for the data collection and dissemination phases of the cycle.
The third hypothetical construct concerns BI vendors’ attempts at making considerable changes in software each year, with each new upgrade. By tracing and comparing the developments of the vendors selected it has been concluded that all BI vendors, irrespective of whether it is a leading traditional vendor or small innovative BI, follow the same tendency in introducing BI enhancements by striving to make its software cost-effective, simpler, faster and flexible for use, scalable to manage increasing amounts of data in businesses, accessible to employees at all levels of organization. Most of the vendors introduced a support for heterogeneous environments and data sources from a variety of vendors.
Hypothesis four sought to find out if the BI vendors’ software tested can be divided into a number of meaningful subgroups. With reference to evaluation and analysis and empirical findings, it has been concluded that the BI vendors can be divided into sub groups and hence has been classified based on their support of the phases of the intelligence cycle, their developments and market information. The subgroups range from advanced, competent, partially competent, and inadequate to absolutely inadequate. Among the BI vendors assessed, none satisfied the criteria in the advanced category.
Hypothesis five aspired to determine if the BI software evaluated should fall under a different term as some of them do not follow the entire BI cycle. The analysis of empirical findings identified that QlikView and TIBCO Spotfire deliver the so-called next generation in-memory analytics, which is faster, much simpler, more flexible and scalable and meet the present-day business needs to a far greater extent if compared to traditional BI. Besides, they do not follow the entire BI cycle and it is suggested herein to term them as Business Analytics Software instead of BI software. Moreover, as Astragy does not support any BI functions, it is also suggested to term it differently as CI software, not BI software.
BI software is among the many software that organizations utilize to ensure their stay in the market. BI enables organizations to make well informed business decisions and thus can be the source of competitive advantages and perform the ultimate objective improving the timeliness and quality of decisions. Developments in BI software eventually play the role of improving the overall performance of the organization using them by enabling the company to respond quickly and adapt to changes. It is within this framework that this research has been directed and is alluded to by the hypotheses above.
Fundamentally, the evaluation of BI software development has gleaned data which shows that BI software vendors have made significant improvements with their product offerings. Developments in information delivery, user-interface, reporting, analytics, and data integration are evident with BI vendors examined for the purpose of this research. BI vendors have also seen developments in their possession of market share among these software providers. It has been observed that SAP Business Objects has the leading market share as opposed to other competitors. Majority of these BI vendors also provide multiple licence options in the market. Generally BI vendors do make significant developments with BI software over time and this they have all recognized is necessary to ensure competitive advantage. With regards to the intelligence cycle, one can allude that few are lacking much in data collection and dissemination, very few are supporting analysis duly, but all BI vendors used for the purpose of this research fell short on the planning and direction phase.
Based on the findings it is being suggested, further investigation of all BI software vendors is recommended with an in-depth analysis of CI cycle phases based on the enhanced evaluation criteria as well as newly approached analysis and evaluation of recent BI developments, present market shares and pricing structures is suggested for further studies. A further analysis of BI market share for 2008 should be carried out to reflect the present-day situation.
The research will provide further details concerning the developments that have been made in BI software among a select group of vendors, the extent to which the software provided by these vendors cover the areas which comprise the business intelligence cycle. It will also further highlight the new developments that have taken place with the software compared to previous release by vendors, the market share of the software and the market that exists for these providers.