How Do We Define a "BI Vendor"

My colleague, Holger Kisker, just posted a very insightful blog on the convergence of BI and BPM technologies. Yes, Holger, BPM vendors definitely have some BI capabilities. And so do some search vendors like Attivio, Endeca and Microsoft FAST Search. And so do some middleware vendors like TIBCO, Vitria and Software AG. And so do rules vendors like FairIsaac, PegaSystems. Should I go on? I have a list of hundreds of vendors that "say" they are a BI vendor.

But it’s not that simple. First of all, let’s define BI. In the last BI Wave we defined BI as “a set of methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information used to enable more effective strategic, tactical, and operational insights and decision-making”. To provide all these capabilities a vendor should have most of the necessary components such as data integration, data quality, master data management, metadata management, data warehousing, OLAP, reporting, querying, dashboarding, portal, and many, many others. In this broader sense only full BI stack vendors such as IBM, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, SAS, TIBCO and Information Builders qualify.

Even if we define BI more narrowly as the reporting and analytics layer of the broader BI stack, we still want to include capabilities such as 11 ones we use to rate BI vendors in the BI Waves:

We can now include a few more BI vendors that fit into the narrower definition (with at least 5 or more components) such as MicroStrategy, Acuate, QlikView and Panorama. Even with that narrow definition, most of the “non traditional” BI vendors do not qualify. Most of them would be missing production reports with pixel perfect formatting, analytical performance management, advanced analytics, BI workspace, guided search, non modeled exploration, and text analytics.
I do agree with Holger that the convergence of BI, processes, rules, applications (including desktop apps) is happening – it has to happen, it’s the next natural evolution - but it’ll be a while.


re: How Do We Define a "BI Vendor"

I fully agree with your view. With my blog I didn't want to say BPM vendors are becoming BI vendors. Indeed a consistent BI stack requires a lot of solution components and it's anyways not the intend of BPM vendors to start competing in the BI space - why should they? But BPM vendors are adding BI capabilities into their solutions which is a different thing and a clear trend that is happening. And yes, it's a slow process that has just started in the first integration layer of my convergence model.
Thanks, Holger

re: How Do We Define a "BI Vendor"

Hi Holger,

In the BPM world, this convergence is being referred to as Process Intelligence. Process Intelligence (or PI) not only covers the scenarios outlined in your blog post, but also covers process mining (i.e., automated process discovery). I typically discourage BPM vendors from highlighting their reporting/analytics capabilities as "BI", since it leaves out so much of the core functionality provided by true BI environments (as you and Boris outlined above) and also introduces the possibility of comparing apples to oranges. Additionally, most of the BPM firms introducing BI-like functionality are primarily focused on reporting process metrics. I recommend we delineate "process intelligence" from "business intelligence" to minimize confusion.

re: How Do We Define a "BI Vendor"

Completely agree, in order to get more value out of your BPM efforts and investments you have to have more "Process Intelligence" I love that the worlds are coming together. Cant wait to see more and more of it.

re: How Do We Define a "BI Vendor"

Excellent dicussion from all sides. I appreciate your research into the convergence of BPM and BI and the efforts to clarify/define our work around "Process Intelligence."