Friday, December 21, 2007

forest-or-trees Expert Predictions for 2008


Wow...quite a year....while Chris Butler and the Waitresses perform "Christmas Wrapping" on and Jason behind me taps out the first draft of the play he'll also direct a couple of months from now, let me Janus-wise opine on the year gone by and the year to come....'twas fine of Jeff Kelly to spur this forest-or-trees roundup of my bread-and-butter (and has it really been three years since the Boxing Day Tsunami?):



  • BI becoming SOA’s crown jewel: The past year has seen a rash of headline-grabbing M&A deals in the BI arena, with Oracle’s acquisition of Hyperion, SAP’s deal for Business Objects, and IBM’s pending takeover of Cognos—not to mention acquisitions of smaller BI and corporate performance management (CPM) application vendors by most of those firms. It’s far too easy to misinterpret these recent events as just more of the same M&A-stoked empire-building that we’ve come to expect from large IT solution vendors. What’s driving this recent industry consolidation—which is sure to continue in 2008--is growing vendor recognition that BI is the crown jewel in any comprehensive service-oriented architecture (SOA) solution portfolio. Though Oracle and SAP (and, to a lesser degree, IBM) already had decent BI wares in their respective SOA portfolios, none of them were on any enterprise’s short list of name-brand BI solution providers—until, that is, each of them decided to grab a leading BI pure-play. SOA suites cannot be considered feature-complete unless they incorporate a comprehensive range of BI features.
  • BI evolving into tailored business analytics: CPM—sometimes called “business analytics”—is rapidly becoming a key competitive front in the BI wars. Increasingly, BI/CPM vendors are offering tailored solutions for a dizzying range of horizontal business requirements and vertical industries. Vendors’ continued profitability also hinges on their ability to provide the professional services necessary to create, customize, and support business analytics for each vertical industry’s and specific customer’s unique requirements. Without a doubt, we’ll see further verticalization of product and service offerings by CPM vendors in 2008, which will provide a necessary hedge against the inevitable creep of commoditization into such horizontal analytics segments as financial, human resources, sales and marketing, and supply chain management.
  • BI going truly real-time through complex event processing: Complex event processing (CEP) promises business agility through continuous correlation and visualization of multiple event-streams. However, CEP has heretofore been conspicuously missing from the mainstream BI arena, necessitating stovepipe CEP implementations that are only loosely integrated with enterprises’ existing visualization, reporting, dashboarding, information modeling, metadata, and other BI infrastructure components. That will change big-time in 2008, as most leading BI vendors start to partner with CEP pure-plays, or acquire them outright, in order to strengthen their support for real-time event-driven applications. We expect to see SAP/Business Objects, IBM/Cognos, Oracle/Hyperion, SAS Institute, Microsoft, Information Builders, and MicroStrategy venture into the CEP arena in the coming year. Likewise, it’s very likely that the newly independent Teradata, which has taken the lead in real-time data warehousing (DW), will snatch up a CEP vendor to build out its real-time BI portfolio.
  • BI bundling with DW appliances: Appliances have even begun to take up permanent residence at the heart of the enterprise data center: in the DW and BI infrastructures. Increasingly, vendors are focusing on integrating, packaging, and pricing their DW/BI products as pre-configured, modular appliances for quick deployment. These appliances consist of processing, storage, and software components that have been prepackaged, preconfigured, and pre-optimized for core DW/BI functions such as multidimensional online analytical processing (OLAP) queries, bulk data loading, and online archiving. The past year saw a growing range of DW vendors—including such DBMS powerhouses as IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft—reorient their DW/BI go-to-market strategies around the appliance model. In turn, leading BI vendors such as Business Objects and Cognos made a big push into the appliance arena. In 2008 and beyond, more and more DW vendors will pre-integrate BI solutions—their own and/or those of their partners—into their appliances. Increasingly, DW/BI appliances will be tailored, packaged, and priced for many market segments and deployment scenarios.
  • BI goes collaborative: Collective intelligence is an organization’s most precious asset. Traditionally, the BI industry has offered little to directly address one of the most critical components of group IQ: the collaboration environment. Instead, most BI applications focus on delivering targeted reports, analytics, dashboards, multidimensional visualization, and other key data to individual end users in isolation, rather than to larger business teams. In the past year, though, the BI industry has begun to roll out more collaboration features in their products—such as Microsoft with their new Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 solutin--or, at the very least, to begin talking about new collaboration features to expect in the coming year. In 2008 and beyond, we expect to see the BI, collaboration, and knowledge management segments converge. Likewise, we expect to see such interactive Web 2.0 technologies as AJAX, blogs, wikis, and social networking revolutionize the BI experience. Many BI vendors now realize that decision support environments should allow users to access intelligence wherever it may reside, be it in data warehouses or in the heads of remote colleagues.


  • MDM vendors consolidate: Recent M&A activity—such as SAP/Business Objects, Oracle/Hyperion, IBM/Cognos, and Microsoft/Stratature--can be viewed as driven by vendors’ need to assemble more comprehensive solution portfolios to manage diverse master data sets and feed them into enterprise BI/CPM environments. In 2008, vendors will--through strategic acquisitions, partnerships, and internal development--assemble MDM solution portfolios that encompass best-of-breed solution elements in data integration (DI), data quality (DQ), DW, DBMSs, cross-catalog hierarchy management, pre-built domain models, data modeling and mapping, and data governance (DG). We expect to see such leading MDM pure-plays as Siperian, Initiate Systems, and Kalido be acquired by larger vendors looking to build up their MDM portfolios.
  • MDM vendors converge their platforms: Some of the recent industry consolidations have brought together former rivals who each have their own MDM solution portfolios that will need to be converged in 2008 and beyond onto a common platform. IBM, which acquired two MDM vendors in the past few years, has already pre-announced a converged new MDM solution that will be generally available in the first quarter of 2008. Oracle, which acquired Hyperion’s financial data-hub MDM solution in 2007, is likely to converge that offering with its pre-existing customer data integration (CDI) and product information management (PIM) MDM offerings on the Fusion Middleware platform in 2008. Likewise, we expect to see SAP begin to bring some important MDM-enabling Business Objects technology—especially strong data profiling and cleansing—into its established NetWeaver MDM offering.
  • MDM vendors differentiate through prepackaged solution accelerators: MDM projects are often complex, costly, and time-consuming. Recognizing this barrier to user adoption, vendors have increasingly sought to lower total cost of ownership through prepackaged MDM solution accelerators, sometimes known as domain models or templates—for CDI, PIM, and various vertical application domains. The leading MDM vendors—such as IBM and Oracle—rolled out and enhanced solution accelerators in 2007, and this trend will extend to all vendors, large and small, in 2008 and beyond. These solution accelerators consist of packaged master data definitions, schemas, models and objects, plus data governance infrastructure necessary to tailor an MDM or DW environment for a particular horizontal application (such as CDI, PIM, and financial consolidation) or vertical, industry-specific deployment (such as retailing, financial services, consumer packaged goods or healthcare).
  • MDM becoming more of a services than a product market: Even with prepackaged solution accelerators, there is no such thing as a truly shrink-wrapped, plug-and-play MDM solution. In practical terms, MDM often refers to a target enterprise architecture that can be complex, costly and difficult to implement and administer. Consequently, enterprises must engage professional services organizations to guide their MDM projects and operations every step of the way. In 2007, MDM solution vendors continued to build out their own consulting and systems integration (SI) organizations and to cultivate their partnerships with leading professional services firms that have expertise in CDI, PIM, and other key MDM applications. We expect to see this trend accelerate in 2008 and beyond, as professional services leads the way in most vendors’ MDM go-to-market strategies, and as these domain experts become the primary content providers to vendors’ precious MDM solution accelerators.
  • MDM deployments become more decentralized and virtualized: Traditionally, MDM has been deployed in a centralized fashion around the enterprise DW. However, 2007 saw more and more vendors stress more decentralized, virtualized deployment models for MDM, such as IBM with its focus on “multi-style, multi-form, multidomain” deployments. We expect this trend accelerate in 2008, as vendors respond to users’ demands for life-cycle management of master data sets across federated environments. Increasingly, users are requiring flexible MDM environments that allow them to deploy master data sets in centralized or federated topologies, while retaining unified, SOA-based DG across their enterprise service bus.

Next up, new vistas in Data Warehousing. More on that in the next few.