Just to confirm that good ideas always find their proponent, Business Object's acquisition of Nsite and resulting foray into analytics on demand is a nice (and predictable) follow-on to my earlier post about integration as a service. We'll definitely have to wait and see what BO plans to deliver in the way of on demand analytics, but that's almost secondary to the significance of what the deal means to the larger market.
To put it simply: business analytics and business intelligence have been lagging deeply behind their potential, and complexity is a key part of the lag factor. Too many moving parts underneath the hood of a good analytic, dashboard, or KPI mean too much internal IT investment in development and maintenance. Meanwhile, business users are desperate for a more results-oriented view of analytics that deals directly with the problem at hand: How to identify key issues and bottlenecks, make them known to the right stakeholders, and guide those stakeholders towards corrective action.
Analytics on demand won't necessarily solve that basic issue, which requires at a minimum a strong domain knowledge of the business and a how-to knowledge of what corrective action really means. But an on demand offering will allow that domain knowledge to be realized more quickly and more thoroughly than an on-premise model, On-premise analytics require that business domain expertise be paired with a deep and not very complementary technical expertise that in many cases would be better off being outsourced to a service provider who can deploy that specialized expertise in a more leveragable fashion. For many companies, and we're now going to start seeing how many, outsourcing the plumbing for business analytics will be the catalyst for a much greater and more profound use of analytics than ever before.
To give credit where credit is due, virtually all SaaS application vendors sell on demand analytics by virtue of the fact that they include analytics as part of the larger product set they offer. But credit BO with being the first pure-play business intelligence vendor, to my knowledge, to begin building out a more general purpose analytics on demand capability. This is another great idea who's time should have come a long time ago. BO definitely has a jump on a market trend that's going to move fast and furious in the coming months. But don't expect them to be out there by themselves for very long: the barriers to entry are much lower than BO would probably like, particularly if you're already a major analytics and on demand player. Are you listening, Oracle? Anyone else?