Something interesting has happened to business intelligence (BI) over the past couple of years. It has matured to the point where industry pundits and gurus are discussing it in historical terms. One thing that the history of BI has taught us is that customer demand drives the dynamics of the industry more than technology vendors' attempts to shape it.

Today, there are two camps of BI vendors: large, established players attempting to shape the industry by adding functionality to the existing stack, and a new guard, companies that are building businesses in response to the limitations of the existing stack. Over the past 30 years, the old guard has focused innovation efforts on optimizing traditional BI elements: Informix revolutionized databases with its Dynamic Server, Informatica brought advances in ETL, while Ascential Software pioneered data cleansing and meta data management. New guard innovation is characterized by hybrid analytics that incorporate new analysis paradigms such as rich visualization and new data sets, such as unstructured content.

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