IDC Business Intelligence Roadshow in Prague

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I attended the IDC BI Roadshow today in Prague, in the Czech Republic. Tom Vavra, the IDC research director for the CEMA region, started off the day with a presentation entitled “The Next Wave of Business Intelligence”. He was under unusual pressure, because (1) his family was in the room, and it was the first time they’d seen him speak, and (2) part of the room fell on another IDC employee in the middle of his speech (he literally “brought the house down”).

Tom Vavra

The presentation was full of interesting BI data nuggets, including:

  • CEE IT spending dropped 13% in 2009, but returned to a predicted 10.9% growth in 2010 (Czech spending didn’t fall as fast, and won’t jump back as quickly – expected 6.4% growth this year).
  • Business analytics was one of the only areas that still experienced WW growth (of 2.5%) last year.
  • Interestingly, “new and exciting” advanced analytics only grew +0.6% last year, compared to “boring old” query and reporting’s +2.9% and data warehousing’s +2.5%
  • BI is the #4 in European IT spending priorities after improving service quality, IT security, and IT cost reductions.
  • In CEMA survey last year, 62.9% said number of users set to expand over the coming year. 34.6% said no change, only 2.5% saw a decrease.
  • In terms of types of BI that companies are deploying, #1 was dashboards, followed by multidimensional analysis, collaboration, mobile devices, reporting, statistical analysis, search, and text analytics.

Tom showed how far we still have to go in using BI to actually support decision-making. When asked, business people cited the following, in order of importance:

  • Attachments in email
  • Phone conversations
  • In-person meetings
  • Emailing links to content
  • Team workspaces
  • Shared applications

The top two pain points of making decisions will be familiar to anybody who has used or implemented BI systems:

  • Having to launch multiple disconnected applications
  • Ability to find relevant information

But further down the list are some indications of areas where BI has to mature to become true DSS or decision-support systems (as the industry was known when I first joined it twenty years ago).

  • Storing my thoughts with the information for future reference
  • Knowing how a decision actually affected a project
  • Ability to find colleagues with relevant knowledge / skills

Technology used for decisions – email attachments, phone conversations, in-person meetings, emailing links to content centrally, team workspaces, shared applications

Tom went on to cover changes to the BI landscape. The first is BI consolidation, with the WW BI tools revenue share of the top 10 vendors rising inexorably every year from 2003 (~58%) to 2009 (~74%). The second is the rise of on-demand or software-as-a-service BI, predicted to rise at 22.4% CAGR 2008-2013, compared to the general business analytics software market of “only” 7.2%

Next up was Dai Clegg, the EMEA Marketing Director for Netezza, who presented the benefits of their data warehouse appliance product:

“We do one thing, and hopefully we do it very well… we invented it, we deliver it, and we mean it: i’t’s a piece of equipment that you can just plug in, and it does the job” (Netezza’s 400 employees and $200M-growing-at-45% revenues are in the process of being acquired by IBM)

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Dai did a good job of vaunting the benefits of the solution (but once you’ve said “it uses hardware/parallel processing/memory technology to go faster” there’s not necessarily that much to say of interest to a general BI audience).

Thirty minutes into the 25-minute slot, Kamil Matuska, the DW manager of T-Mobile in the Czech Republic was invited up to explain how his team had used the product. He uses a relational data warehouse with SAP BusinessObjects, and the Netezza appliance is currently operated in parallel, and has resulted in dramatic performance increases (operational reporting from several hours down to seconds). He hopes to be able to operate the data warehouse directly on the Netezza appliance within the coming year.

I liked this, from the Netezza brochure: “procedure for deploying a Netezza” (there’s not enough humor in enterprise applications!)

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After the break, I gave my vendor-neutral Clear Intelligence future presentation (a 25 minute version), which can be downloaded as a PowerPoint file or a PDF document.

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After my presentation, Evgeny Velesevich, an ex-Cognos employee, now in charge of sales in the CEE for IBM, talked about the IBM sales analytics package.

The presentation was a little heavy on sales information, but he did make the point that most organizations believe that they have to “build their own”, that they are uniquely qualified to put a BI solution together – which is a bit like building your own car: it might have been necessary a hundred years ago, but now most of us prefer to buy our cars as a complete package, because other people can do it much better than we could ever hope to be.

Finally, some HDR photos I took in Prague…

The next IDC CEMA BI Roadshow session I’ll be presenting at is in Moscow, on November 18th and then Athens, on November 19th (I think).

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