In a recent interview between CBR and Qlik’s VP of Product Management, Donald Farmer, the larger players in the Business Intelligence (BI) space are taken to task a bit. Farmer refers to the likes of IBM, Oracle and Microsoft as “stack vendors” whose BI offerings are very small pieces to a much larger and complicated puzzle they are trying to sell to end users. It is this level of complexity offered by these larger players in the BI space that leads author of the piece, Amy-jo Crowley, to pose the questions, “Are Microsoft, Oracle and IBM failing the business intelligence market?”
Over the course of the interview you get a sense as to how Farmer feels about that question. He says, “Those players are stack vendor, meaning they want to sell you the entire software suite that will run your business not just the BI part. Microsoft, for example, wants to sell you all these tools. We don’t do anything like that. We do this little piece and they do this bigger piece. And in this little BI space, they really are in trouble. The reason is because they cannot make it simple enough. It’s ironic but it’s not in their interest to make it simple. If you think of Oracle, it makes its money from selling consultancy and complicated products that need a lot of servicing, which are simply not natural projects. Even their most recent ones are still too complex.”
It is clear that simplicity and ease of use are a key focus for Farmer and Qlik when looking into the BI space. As the old saying goes – practice what you preach. How is Qlik addressing the idea of simplicity through their own BI offerings? Qlik’s answer is something they call natural analytics. It is the idea of making ones technology work the way the human mind would. “The key thing is the simplicity for the business user to be able to do it themselves. We have this conviction that software is too often difficult to use with the human mind, it tends to work against it. For example, keyboards are really complicated things the first time you use them, but think about just speaking into your phone, which is far more natural. The human mind is really good at identifying patterns, so how can you get that into software so that business people will find the patterns and make sense of it.”
So what are your thoughts here? Do you think that the likes of IBM, Oracle and Microsoft are failing the BI market or is this just a case of one size does not fit all? These “stack vendors” may be perfect fits for organizations with larger infrastructures and can base their whole network around a single vendors offerings. Let us know what you think about the state of the BI space and your experiences with the larger more “complicated” BI solutions. You can find the full interview here.