Application vendors muscle in on BI providers’ patch

Business Intelligence is no longer the preserve of specialist vendors such as Cognos and Business Objects. Heather Havenstein reports

To meet increasing user demand for business intelligence capabilty, application and database vendors are muscling in on the BI tool market that has until now been dominated by specialist third-party suppliers.

For example, appliance maker Whirlpool has opted to freeze new investments in BI tools from Business Objects, Information Builders and Cognos, says Brian Murphy, director of geographic information systems development and business solutions at the company.

Whirlpool plans to replace those tools with an updated version of SAP’s BI suite, called NetWeaver Business Intelligence, which is to ship this year.

Whirlpool has been using the new SAP BI tools since November as part of a limited test. That effort has already led the company to phase out Cognos BI tools at its Australian unit, he says.

Murphy says the new version of SAP’s BI tools improves on earlier releases by closing gaps in front-end visualisation and reporting capabilities.

Whirpool will continue to use predictive analysis tools from BI vendor SAS Institute to mine unstructured data because the SAP products focus mostly on structured data, he says.

Replacing most of its third-party BI tools with SAP software will ease Whirpool’s integration requirements and eliminate the need for employees with multiple skill sets, he says.

John I. Haas, a producer of hops used in beer manufacturing, decided a year ago to buy BI tools from Oracle rather than from traditional BI vendors. The company wanted to avoid the disconnect that often occurs when back-end software is upgraded before the BI vendor can support the update, says Kyle Lambert, the company’s vice president of information systems.

Haas plans to upgrade the BI tools in April when it installs version 11i.10 of Oracle’s E-Business Suite.

John Hagerty, an analyst at AMR Research, says enterprise application vendors — traditionally focused on transaction processing rather than analysis — have increased their focus on BI as users buy more tools from the BI-centric vendors.

“The enterprise vendors saw this as money they were leaving on the table,” he says. As a result, the traditional BI players are “getting knocked around a little bit” by the enterprise application vendors.

However, Hagerty also says the traditional BI vendors have the advantage of supporting disparate data sources, whereas the platform providers generally focus on their own data sources.

IBM’s BI tool, the DB2 Data Warehouse Edition, overcomes some of the issues facing other platform vendors by supporting multivendor data sources.

Todd Grinaway, director of data warehousing and senior IT manager at a large health insurance company in Pennsylvania, plans to use the IBM toolset, unveiled last year, to access data from multiple sources.

Grinaway also says using the IBM BI tools means there is “one less finger-pointing exercise I have to go through” when something goes wrong.

Nonetheless, the firm still uses third-party tools where appropriate, he says. For example, it plans to continue using BI tools from Business Objects for enterprise reporting.

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More about AMR ResearchBusiness ObjectsCognosCognosIBM AustraliaInformation BuildersOracleSAP AustraliaSASSAS Institute Australia

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