There are four trends in the world of business intelligence software, says the latest entrant into the local market.
The first is that users are increasingly taking charge of business intelligence applications as opposed to IT staff, says Martin Kratky, managing director of German software firm MIS.
“They can do their own modelling, reporting and setting up of workflows. IT people set up the back end.”
The second is active analysis technology.
“Business users have to know what they’re looking for,” says Sydney-based Kratky.
“They need applications that actively support them by showing what is important and highlighting what they should be looking for. The problem isn’t that the users don’t have the data but they can’t find the relevant data.”
The next trend is combining structured data such as numbers with unstructured data such as comments.
“We’re trying to implement all these things,” Kratky says.
Providing business intelligence applications through ASPs (application service providers) is another important trend but will take a while to get going, Kratky says. He predicts it will take off in two years, mainly because users have to get used to the idea of having critical business data outsourced.
MIS has chosen Auckland-based ASP Asparona as its local distributor, mainly because of its experience in financial and business software. Last year MIS entered the Asia-Pacific market and its move into New Zealand is a continuation of its expansion in the region.
Cognos and Brio Technology are the main providers of business intelligence tools in New Zealand, though vendors such as Computer Associates, Oracle, Seagate and SAS have their own tool sets. Despite the presence of so many players already, Kratky believes there’s plenty of room. “BI is still an absolute growth market. Our revenues have grown by at least 40% in the last few years.”
A feature that may make MIS tools attractive to New Zealand companies is the scalability of its products, he says. “You can start very small, such as a one-user site, or can have many users. Another differentiator is that we can directly integrate into spreadsheet solutions such as Excel or Office so users can work in that environment but have the security and power of our central analytical server.”
Things have to be easy to use, he says. “Analysts have totally different requirements, such as high-end statistical and data-mining methods, to top managers who aren’t IT literate.”
Kratky says the major factor in a business intelligence project is the integration of different source systems. “It takes the longest time and requires most of the thinking and planning.”