Much has been written over the last several weeks about the series of acquisitions taking place in the analytics and business intelligence (BI) marketplace and what the potential longer-term implications are for both solution providers and customers alike. One thing is sure, as a recent Gartner report and blog states: "The Future of Database Management Systems Is Cloud!"
We see this very clearly with Google’s acquisition of Looker, and the Salesforce acquisition of Tableau. We see it with a move towards hybrid data ecosystems in which organizations want to move more and more of their data management infrastructure to the cloud, while looking at the level of managed services and analytics access required to get the most out of their technology investments.
All of these changes in the market mean that, not only will the competitive landscape change, but also organizations will eventually benefit.
Today’s acquisition cycle is just a start. It shows the need for solution providers to expand their offerings, whether by providing more robust analytics or by ensuring broader data management offerings. This means that the competitive landscape will change. For current customers of acquired offerings, longer-term product use might be a challenge, but the overall changes to the market are the same. Basically, we might not see shorter-term differences but longer-term shifts in the market show that:
- Cloud-based providers are making a play for more robust data management and analytics offerings
- BI and analytics vendors want to become platform vendors by expanding their offerings – as seen by Qlik’s acquisition of Attunity – to provide more robust data prep and overall management
- Organizations are taking their data challenges more seriously and using them to drive their analytics projects, which can be seen by the increasing focus on data quality, privacy, ethics, and the need for organization-wide data governance
- Both vendors and organizations are starting to understand the complexities of the market – meaning that by acquiring additional technology, there is the hope that consolidation will address these challenges and provide more offerings
All of these changes in the market mean that, not only will the competitive landscape change, but also organizations will eventually benefit. In any acquisition, the reality is that vendors struggle for a bit until they integrate offerings and define their direction. Salesforce provides a good example of what may occur. Although Tableau is a leading visualization vendor, their ability to innovate, remain current, and meet the needs of customers will depend on Salesforce's end goal, not what is best for Tableau customers. On the bright side, Salesforce is considered an analytics and BI offering as it makes the cut for several industry analyst firm software comparisons. At the same time, the Salesforce raison d’etre is CRM. And this means that the Tableau that exists now may not in the next couple of years – at least not in the same way.
Each acquisition will face the same challenge. At the same time, the benefit of this acquisition cycle is that organizations will eventually have more flexibility. Flexibility in platform selection, flexibility in capabilities, what lives on-premises versus in the cloud, and the list goes on. It is important to never lose sight of the fact that at the end of the day, vendors need to make decisions that benefit the market and their customers. This means developing technology stacks that do just that. In this case, that involves more robust analytics capabilities and better data management.
And this is exactly what organizations need. Cloud platforms create more flexible offerings – how organizations pay for storage, the level of managed services required and desired, support for broader capabilities and technology support, and more. Better embedded analytics (LogiAnalytics) or more robust data integration (Qlik) means that organizations will be able to implement and scale their analytics investments.
At the same time, there are vendors such as Information Builders that already have strong analytics and data management capabilities and are making cloud their priority. The current market focus shows this is the right direction and that more and more solution providers will try to create the same types of offerings. Essentially, this is where the market is headed. Once this happens, key differentiators will be based on customer relationships and overall satisfaction.