The BI war: Old vs. new business intelligence vendors

A battle is brewing between the legacy business intelligence vendor and the rookies burst onto the enterprise IT scene. Who will emerge victorious?

As the clash between old and new business intelligence (BI) vendors heats up, who will prevail on the IT battlefield?

The overarching goal of BI is to help users make well-informed business decisions using technologies and applications designed to gather, store, analyze and grant access to data. In a recent piece, SearchCIO Senior News Writer Nicole Laskowski revealed why enterprise IT organizations should expect to see rapid adoption of BI and analytics in the coming year. Her coverage stemmed from the recent Gartner BI and Analytics Summit, where Gartner analyst Dan Sommer highlighted the following tipping points in underscoring that traditional business intelligence vendors must change course to avoid being disrupted by younger, more nimble BI competitors:

  1. In 2014, 50% of BI license spending will be driven by data discovery requirements;
  2. Half of organizations will consider cloud BI in 2014; and
  3. BI and analytics spending will be business-driven in 2014, with half of organizations moving away from a "stack-centric worldview."

"As these tipping points play out over the next couple of years, BI and analytics will infiltrate new corners of the business," Sommer said.

BI poll

To gauge more feedback on this showdown between old and new BI vendors, we asked our readers, "Who will win the BI war?" Half of our respondents said that new vendors will bring home the gold, while 36% felt there will be no clear winner ("both"). Only a small fraction of individuals felt that only legacy BI vendors would triumph (6.5%) or neither would be successful (6.5%).

In the comments section, readers sounded off, starting with why new business intelligence vendors have the upper hand:

  • "It is simple. First of all, we have to pay attention to business users, because the new tools (new BI) are focused to make their lives more effective and easy! That's it!" - PCrespo
  • "If new BI can deliver on its promises -- equivalent capability to old BI, more agility, less maintenance, lower cost -- then it's only a matter of time before it wins out (or at least forces old BI to adapt to compete). But to PCrespo's point, maybe it's not even worth distinguishing between 'old' and 'new' BI; if a platform meets a company's need for reporting infrastructure and insight, the 'how' is irrelevant." - Atteboyskie
  • "WHEN new BI delivers on its promise, then they will take old BI down. I agree with you Atte, on what's relevant." - Larsensara

More on data influence on the enterprise

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Data in transit: Avoiding bottlenecks

Old BI vendors need not fret for the time being if their offerings provide value to users. However as Atteboyskie points out, bigger, better, faster and stronger IT tools seem to provide a definite advantage. Other readers offered similar views on who will win the BI battle:

  • "[BI that is] more nimble and quicker to setup and implement. [IT must] focus on delivering business users a clear and 'easy-to-visualize' view of their most important data and analytics. Data discovery is the new way business will take to improve intelligence." - Jridings
  • "It's not data discovery that's important. It's information and insight discovery that means something to the person who's looking at the data." - ChrisGerrard

Data-discovery debate aside, do old BI vendors at least have a fighting chance? While AGJames13 is in the cheering section for old BI vendors, Jimmylad isn't confident that seasoned BI veterans understand what users need in this day and age:

  • "[Old BI vendors] have the experience and will adapt their products to meet the new requirements. Plus, they have a large installed base." - AGJames13
  • "Old vendors like SAS don't get how users want to use their data ... the other 'old' BI play that will live forever is the humble spreadsheet. When all else fails in getting access to corporate data, Excel saves the day!" - Jimmylad

Does majority rule here? Do you think new vendors will win the BI war over their legacy counterparts? Tell us in the comments section below.

This was first published in May 2014

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