Hard times boost demand for intelligence

Tough economic environment sees slower growth but more pervasive use of business intelligence in companies as workers seek timely, accurate information, says IDC.

The market for business intelligence (BI) tools in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, grew 7.7 percent in 2008 to an estimated US$445.3 million, but this fell short of the double-digit growth rates recorded from 2005 to 2007, said IDC.

In a press statement Wednesday, IDC said demand for BI in the region was getting a boost from organizations as employees seek access to quality information.

Sharon Tan, research manager of software research at IDC's Asia-Pacific, noted that economic uncertainties have intensified the need for timely, accurate and relevant information to make sound business decisions.

"Following the economic crisis, many decision makers and information workers felt the pain of insufficient, inaccurate or contradictory information, as they tried hard to grow their business," Tan said in a press statement. "IDC expects this need to fuel interest in BI solutions, and pave the way for future BI growth once business sentiments improve."

A separate preliminary analysis of an IDC-sponsored survey focusing on end-users, conducted from March to April 2009, revealed that a significant percentage of organizations plan to equip users such as managers and customer-facing employees, with timely information. Respondents said they planned to do this over the next 18 months, by ensuring BI tools were more pervasively available across their organizations, she noted.

Slower growth in short term
IDC, however, said the short-term outlook of BI tools has slowed down for all countries due to the economic uncertainties. Nonetheless, China, India and Thailand are expected to remain the region's BI growth generators, driven by regulatory and compliance-related requirements, increasing maturity in application deployments, and heightened competitive pressures.

The study noted that Australia accounted for the lion's share of the BI market in terms of software revenue, followed by Korea and China. Software revenue included license fees and maintenance.

According to the research firm, the BI software market in most Asia-Pacific countries contracted in the second half of 2008 as many businesses froze or slashed IT budgets with the global economic crisis unfolding during the year.

IDC expects cost-cutting measures and lower IT budgets to contribute to longer sales cycles and increasing price pressures in the first half of 2009.

End-user studies it conducted in first quarter-2009 confirmed that cost was the main consideration when IT decision makers in the Asia-Pacific region evaluate software purchases. As such, organizations are likely to be motivated to try alternative, lower-cost BI tools and delivery models.

The survey polled 10 markets in the region, comprising Australia, Hong Kong, India, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, China, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.