Sometimes ideas for blog posts flow out of everyday conversations with colleagues. I want to thank Leslie Owens and Matt Brown for stimulating the following thought train.
The external competitive environment is the cloud where opportunities and threats hang, sometimes latent, sometimes looming. So it only makes sense that enterprises will outsource more of the competitive surveillance to the cloud of external resources, such as analyst firms, third-party market intelligence subscription feeds, social networking, Web 2.0, etc.
Boris Evelson's latest post on free BI got me thinking about another type of freedom.
Boris commented on the newly announced beta of a gratis, lightweight, Panorama-powered BI/OLAP-engine add-on to Google's hosted apps. You know, whenever anybody mentions BI/OLAP, I think of analytical databases, hence data warehousing (DW). And when my thoughts turn to DW, I often wonder when these dimensional data stores will be let loose from their earthly tethers and begin to float free in the SaaS cloud. This is no blue-sky speculation, but rather an inevitability in a world shifting to subscription-based SaaS for on-demand delivery of all infrastructure and application services. Where database services are concerned, this trend even has a name in popular circulation: Database 2.0 (aka "cloud databases").
Now that I caught your attention with the title -- it's not what you think. It's not about freeing BI from the constraints and limitations of corporate politics, organizational silos, and lack of proper data governance -- although that's a very worthy topic to write about.
This morning, Google will unveil a beta version of its spreadsheet application with some new advanced features, such as Pivot Table. The Pivot Table is a product developed by Panorama, a small, but upcoming BI vendor (they are currently being evaluated in detail by Forrester BI Wave '08), who were, interestingly enough, the original inventors of Microsoft Analysis Services OLAP (Online Analytic Processing) engine. So now, part of Panorama code will be inside two of the biggest software companies in the world!