My colleague, Holger Kisker, just posted a very insightful blog on the convergence of BI and BPM technologies. Yes, Holger, BPM vendors definitely have some BI capabilities. And so do some search vendors like Attivio, Endeca and Microsoft FAST Search. And so do some middleware vendors like TIBCO, Vitria and Software AG. And so do rules vendors like FairIsaac, PegaSystems. Should I go on? I have a list of hundreds of vendors that "say" they are a BI vendor.

But it’s not that simple. First of all, let’s define BI. In the last BI Wave we defined BI as “a set of methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information used to enable more effective strategic, tactical, and operational insights and decision-making”. To provide all these capabilities a vendor should have most of the necessary components such as data integration, data quality, master data management, metadata management, data warehousing, OLAP, reporting, querying, dashboarding, portal, and many, many others. In this broader sense only full BI stack vendors such as IBM, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, SAS, TIBCO and Information Builders qualify.

Even if we define BI more narrowly as the reporting and analytics layer of the broader BI stack, we still want to include capabilities such as 11 ones we use to rate BI vendors in the BI Waves:

  • Production, operational reports
  • Ad-hoc query builder
  • OLAP
  • Dashboards
  • Analytical Performance Management, Scorecards
  • Business Activity Monitoring (BAM)
  • Advanced Analytics
  • BI Workspace
  • Guided search
  • Non modeled exploration
  • Text analytics

We can now include a few more BI vendors that fit into the narrower definition (with at least 5 or more components) such as MicroStrategy, Acuate, QlikView and Panorama. Even with that narrow definition, most of the “non traditional” BI vendors do not qualify. Most of them would be missing production reports with pixel perfect formatting, analytical performance management, advanced analytics, BI workspace, guided search, non modeled exploration, and text analytics.
I do agree with Holger that the convergence of BI, processes, rules, applications (including desktop apps) is happening – it has to happen, it’s the next natural evolution - but it’ll be a while.

Boris also blogs at http://blogs.forrester.com/business_process/.