Business Intelligence (BI) is a perennial green that simply refuses to give up and get commoditized.  Even though very few vendors try to differentiate these days on commodity features like point and click, drag and drop, report grouping, ranking, sorting filtering (those that still do – get with the program!), there are still plenty of innovative and differentiated features to master. We categorize these capabilities under the aegis of Forrester Agile BI and they include

  • Making BI more automated (suggestive BI, auto-information discovery, contextual BI, integrated and full BI life cycle, BI on BI),
  • More pervasive (embedding BI in within applications and processes, within the information workplace, and collaborative, self-service, mobile and cloud based BI)
  • More unified (unifying structured data and unstructured content, batch and streaming BI, historical and predictive, and handling complex non-relational data structures), and
  • Breaking through BI limitations (with exploration and discovery, flexible, adaptable data models, and advanced data visualization)

It’s with BI unification (historical and predictive) in mind that SAP announced its intent to acquire KXEN. It’s not a major direction change for SAP – they’ve had a long history of providing predictive analytics functionality integrated with the rest of the BOBJ and BW technologies. For years SAP OEMed SPSS as its predictive solution of choice. Then after IBM acquired SPSS that relationship naturally withered and SAP started building their own proprietary predictive routines in BW and HANA. They also got on the open source R bandwagon and integrated R into BOBJ and HANA. Now it'll be interesting to watch how SAP will juggle between 1) their own proprietary predictive routines, 2) R, and 3) KXEN.
SAP has tons of competition in this space

  • Just about every single leading BI vendor (including Actuate, Information Builders, MicroStrategy, TIBCO Spotfire, QlikView, Tableau Software) provides some level of integration with R
  • SAS has been in the predictive analytics and BI market for decades
  • IBM Cognos has tight integration with SPSS
  • Oracle OBIEE can call Oracle data mining routines embedded into its DBMS
  • Microsoft Excel and SQLServer come with a dozen or so basic predictive routines built in

We are currently evaluating all of these leading BI vendors against a few hundred criteria which include the following criteria on BI/predictive analytics intersection

  • # of predictive routines that come out of the box with the BI platform
  • Whether it’s vendor’s proprietary software or OEMd from the 3rd party
  • How tightly are predictive routines integrated with the rest of the BI platform
  • Whether vendor’s BI platform integrates/embeds R
  • Whether vendor provides point and click GUI to generate R code
  • Whether predictive routines can be imported / exported via PMML

Stay tuned for the results in December 2013.
This blog originally appeared at Forrester Research. Published with permission.


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