One of the best ways to understand the BI software market is to pay for some research from the industry analysts, such as Gartner, Forrester Research, and Yankee Group. Their reports may cost you from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.
If you can't afford the details, you can often find high-level summaries that give away the highlights for free.
For example, Boris Evelson at Forrester Group recently released his latest research on Enterprise BI Platforms. You can find out more about the Q4 2010 Forrester Wave on Boris' Information Management blog.
As expected, Boris points out that the mega-vendors continue to be the clear Business Intelligence leaders. However, it is not just about their software products; they are able to provide customers with "overall information management functionality."
- IBM Cognos
- SAP BusinessObjects
- Information Builders
- TIBCO Spotfire
- Panarama Software
While that might be a safe enterprise decision, Boris recommends considering privately-held Information Builders as a serious alternative to the very large vendors. IBI has its own integrated stack of BI products:
- Universal Metadata and Data Access Layer
- WebFOCUS Reporting Server for web-based on-demand access
- User interfaces for the entire enterprise of varying needs
- WebFOCUS Distribution Server/ReportCaster for automated information delivery
- iWay Software ETL for batch data movements
- iWay Software Service Manager for real-time data movements
- Database update capabilities
- Custom database
- Broad support for multiple platforms, databases, and web technologies
Keep an eye on QlikTech which has been a darling in Europe and is starting to be hot here in the United States. Boris acknowledges QlikTech as a real BI vendor following its successful IPO.
Be sure to see Boris' complete research, including the detail 147 evaluation criteria and vendor specifics.