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While Forrester Envisions Consolidation for the 3 "Bs", it's Happening for Apps and BI Vendors

(Posted by guest Blogger, Gib Bassett)

Cognos and Microstrategy are the two remaining independent Business Intelligence (BI) software giants following today’s news that SAP was purchasing Business Objects.  Speculation was building online last week that a deal was in the works and in fact for much of this year since Oracle purchased Hyperion, such rumors have been the case. 

As I mention in my prior blog about Forrester's prediction of convergence among BI, Business Process Management and Business Rules vendors, firms like Business Objects and SAP used to market against one another, the former espousing the benefits of an enterprise view of data, reporting and analysis, and the other the same, but with deeper functionality and built for the applications producing the data.  A few years and many joint customers later, it’s easy to see why this consolidation is taking place, and it should only become more common as the remaining vendors continue to evolve their product sets around Services Oriented Architectures (SOA) and web services.

It would not be a great leap to say Cognos is next on the block and will probably get snapped up by Oracle.  Although Oracle bought analytics vendor Hyperion earlier this year, that company was more known for its OLAP database and finance applications than broadly applicable BI reporting and analysis tools – which is really the core of Cognos’ business.  Such a scenario would leave Microstrategy as the sole large independent choice for customers not interested in sourcing everything from a single vendor.  If the promise of SOA holds, however, the single vendor benefit promised by mergers may not be as valuable as it seems.

All this is consistent with what we’ve written about on the blog regarding Enterprise Decision Management (EDM), and its basis in SOA concepts rendered as Decision Services potentially blending rules and analytics.  Remaining a component of a larger multi-source solution has numerous benefits to customers considering EDM solutions, primarily that providers can focus on developing their best of breed capabilities without dilution from a larger host business focused on a broader market.  It will be interesting to watch and see how the 3 “Bs” converge as Forrester predicts, and how other trends such as Operational Analytics will be affected by changes to the marketplace.

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What if the process data is locked by the BPM vendors? Will it not be preferable for / force the customer to buy the BI also from the BPM vendor? Sure there are standards like BPML, BPEL etc. but what about the data of the processes themselves?

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