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Business analytics—a market in transition

The business analytics (BA) software market—comprised of data warehousing tools, business intelligence tools and analytic applications—has been growing steadily even as spending on business software has slowed in the past five years. Compliance issues are helping to drive growth, but more important is the need to analyze multiple data sources to make more informed decisions across the enterprise. That has long been a selling point of business analytics software, but with transactional applications widely adopted, more mature analytic offerings available and more employees involved in decision-making, companies must increase investments in decision support.

Business analytics has moved beyond the traditional business intelligence that concerns itself primarily with productivity gains by improving data capture and information delivery. Today's analytic applications support improvements to business processes such as the introduction of new products, pricing changes, renegotiation of sourcing contracts, work force and inventory optimization.

Business analytics market trends

The following section describes a number of trends to look for in BA software over the next five years.

Competition and collaboration among vendors
Although competition and collaboration among the same vendors has been the order of the day in the past, the increasingly mature market suggests that such relationships will be reassessed. As leading vendors either build or acquire tools and applications to increase their diversity in the BA market, former partners find themselves increasingly competing against each other. IT buyers still rely on specialty products to round out their analytics capabilities, but their choices are being consolidated. They can expect lower prices for query and reporting tools and bundled offerings designed to increasingly appeal to the business user.

Suites vs. specialty solutions
Beyond the top vendors (by revenue) there remains a large and vibrant ecosystem of smaller BA vendors that provide specialty solutions either in the tools or applications segments of the BA market. The need for such smaller vendors will remain because the cross-industry market that larger vendors target with BI and data warehouse management tools requires less specialization than niche segments such as supply chain analytics, services operations management analytics and advanced analytics. While inroads by some of the larger vendors have been made into those segments, smaller vendors with specialized products and domain expertise will continue to appeal to buyers in those segments.

Appliances and pre-configured solutions
IDC expects increased interest in data warehouse appliances and/or pre-configured data warehouse reference models that assist user organizations in deploying such solutions. As the BA vendors try to reach a broader audience of users by penetrating medium-sized companies, expanding into all geographic regions and extending their reach within existing client organizations, they are likely to encounter higher demand for performance by the IT departments, as well as more novice users seeking access to the BA software. Both groups will be looking to the vendors to provide more pre-packaged and/or specialized solutions for BA projects.

Intelligent process automation
IDC expects the major thrust of the BA market in the coming years to be focused on deployment of BA solutions for business processes optimization. BA will find its way to the vast majority of users by being embedded within the operational applications already employed by those users. IDC has termed that evolving concept intelligent process automation (IPA). IPA is the convergence of BI and business process management (BPM) technologies. It is the automation of repeatable, operational decisions (not the more infrequent strategic decisions made at the executive level). IPA will not replace executive dashboards or ad hoc BI solutions; the two technologies have different audiences and serve different needs. However, only IPA can help automate repeatable, operational decisions to address both performance management and compliance issues. We are already seeing the first signs of this trend, which is likely to be a significant driver of BA market growth in the future.

Impact of open source BA tools
The last couple of years have shown the first signs that open source software is creeping into the BI tools market. The focus here is not on traditional BI tools deployed on open source operating environments, but instead truly open source BI software. Vendors such as Pentaho, JasperSoft, and Actuate's BIRT clearly display the first signs of a potential market niche. However, we believe that the impact of open source BI tools on overall market size will be limited over the next five years. Instead, the use of open source technologies (e.g. open source databases as metadata repositories) within BI solutions is going to increase.

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