In an effort to reduce cost and minimize risks, an increasingly large number of organizations are choosing to buy rather than build software for their business needs. It is very likely that this trend will continue and broaden into the realm of decision support. This means that in the near future, packaged decision support products will offer viable alternatives to "home grown" data mart and data warehouse applications.

When these products become widely available, IT shops will have to make build or buy decisions when planning to meet their data warehousing needs. Like any new product category, the packaged data mart market will be filled with confusion and conflicting vendor claims. As a result, deciding if one of these off-the-shelf products makes sense for your organization will be a confusing endeavor. In an effort to make your build or buy decision easier, this month we'll gaze into our crystal ball and examine the various types of products that are likely to emerge.

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