BI & DW Trends: 8 for ’08 Dazed and Confused: Product Roadmaps, Upgrades & Migrations

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BI & DW Trends: 8 for ’08 Dazed and Confused: Product Roadmaps, Upgrades & Migrations

Crystallball_trends
(This is part of a series
of posts on business intelligence & data warehousing trends for 2008
.) 

Dazed and confused. Such is the fate of the thousands of BI
customers of Business Objects (BOBJ), Cognos (COGN) and Hyperion as their
respective acquirers – SAP (SAP), IBM (IBM) and Oracle (ORCL) – decide how to
shape their future product lines.

For the acquirers this future involves, obviously,
integrating the newly acquired products with their existing products and
service offerings.  But they also need to
determine how to blend in the dozens of other acquisitions they made in the last
couple of years. For example, how do Business Objects, Cognos and Hyperion fit
within SAP, IBM and Oracle, respectively?

And it gets even more complex: the acquired companies had
been on acquisition binges of their own. For example, how do Applix and
Celequest (both acquired by Cognos) integrate with Cognos 8 and IBM’s OLAP (via
its Alphablox acquisition?)

Acquisitions begat acquisitions begat acquisitions. Change
is good if it helps you. These changes will certainly help the software titans
that acquired these terrific BI firms, but will they benefit existing customers
or prospects? Of course, the titans will say yes but…

For the last several years, Business Objects, Cognos and
Hyperion customers have lived through product line transitions as each of those
companies acquired dozens of companies. Marketing presentations explaining
multiple-release, multiple-year product roadmaps became the order of the day.
Many customers struggled to keep up with the latest upgrade and product
capabilities.

The acquisitions by IBM, SAP and Oracle will only exacerbate
this situation. Sure, there was that marketing slide showing you the promised
software nirvana, but it cost money, time and resources to keep up.

The product
upgrades were beneficial to the software firm by expanding its offerings and
most likely reducing its costs, but what about their customers? More upgrades,
more expense and most likely little additional business benefits. No business
ROI.  In fact, it might even be negative.

Without making a value judgment as to whether the end result
is worth it, it is clear the journey that existing customers will face just to
keep up with the vendors’ product roadmaps and upgrades will be daunting.

I
understand that the software vendors feel that each upgrade offers value to
their customers. But they’d get a different opinion if they surveyed the
customers, especially the people funding these efforts. Customers continue to
extend the time between upgrades for obvious reasons (at least to them and
their businesses.)

Regardless of whatever else happens this year, many BI/DW/PM
customers will be presented with a product roadmap (with much fanfare) and will
be faced with an upgrade to reach the product Holy Grail (as described in those
slides.) In this era of constrained budgets, putting resources into an upgrade
usually means postponing creating new uses of BI/DW/PM.

Proceed cautiously.

1 Comment

  1. Henrikki Hervonen says:

    Hi Rick,
    good article on product roadmaps.
    The funny thing about the consolidating market is that it actually helps companies reach their goal of cutting down on the number of software vendors. But that’s where the fun stops. The real problem is that even though the label on the package is the same the products are still very seperate.
    Even the whole PM offering is still very poorly integrated by the original BI vendors and now they are faced with the challange to understand ERP (SAP) and wider application offering (IBM).
    For the BI SIs it’s looking great since there is lot of integration to be done, but is there real value in the product integration.
    We just have to wait an see.

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