Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Would BI Vendors really buy into ECM?

This was such an unlikely sounding item I had to post about it. A recent post by Alan Pelz-Sharpe mentions an IT Week piece in which he is named alongside Mike Davis from Ovum.

In there Mike talks about the possibility of BI vendors like Cognos and Business Objects continuing the trend of acquiring ECM vendors. This has all been triggered by the IBM announcement around FileNet, and is probably no surprise as analysts try and out-bid each other trying to guess who will be next. Alan, like me, seems to have a different opinion about the match of BI with ECM for this to happen, and Alan's is well worth reading, based on historical context of where this has caused trouble in the past.

As I mention in a comment on Alan's post, the acquisition of an ECM vendor by a BI vendor...
Seems like an odd choice to me. I'm not sure I really understand the use cases for structured BI tools in unstructured content. And selecting acquiring companies purely based on size, rather than fit, is something that I hope we don't see as a trend.

Admittedly, real-time analytics like Aungate provide an interesting take on BI for unstructured information. BI alongside content management seems better when looking at structured metadata, especially when linked to BPM data. But that works nicely as a partnership if the analytics capabilities exceed what is available in the content management suite.

I strongly advocate getting information out of unstructured form if it needs strong BI. Strong analytics need suggests that the data should be freed from the spreadsheet constraints, while providing more control and repeatability around the data. Maybe I'm behind the times!:(

In many systems and business processes, unstructured data is often a byproduct of other poorly operating upstream processes, or the (shrinking) requirement to communicate with customers on paper. The creation of Excel spreadsheets is often the sign of immature processes in my view, although it is one of the few scenarios I could consider useful for structured BI against documents.

If Stellent, Open Text, or Vignette (please no! you won't take me alive), are swallowed by Cognos or Business Objects, I would be surprised. If they have some killer use case I haven't yet imagined, then cool, but I think its going to take some selling!

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