Does BI Stand for Blindly Indifferent?

On from Web Analytics

Well, I will spare you the comments about the “big news” of Omniture acquiring Visual Sciences. The Web Analytics blogosphere is all about it this morning. No, I would like to share with you a little question:

Where the heck are BI companies?

Frankly, when I learned that VS was for sale, I thought “Now’s the time for a BI vendor to make a move”; they’re not active in the WA market, the Web is becoming the Market, we more and more talk about integrating all that data, etc. But no. Omniture grabbed it. It makes the news not such a big one, after all. It’s just plain market dominance strategy, not even a very clever one product wise, as Gary Angel demonstrates well.

So, why have BI companies (you know, the SPSS, SAS, Cognos, Micro Strategy, Business Objects, etc.) never played a bigger role, no, even a role, in our field? Is it because the market was too small? Well, if it was, it is now much bigger; and if it’s still too small for them, it is at least a growing one. Is it because of that famous difference in the nature of data, the web ones being “too dirty”, not structured enough, which made it too hard for their applications to treat? Is it just blind indifference?

I have a hard time believing it. However, I don’t know the answer, and would very much like to, because I believe that would tell us a lot about where the analytics world is going.

A BI company acquiring Visual Sciences would have been much, much bigger news.

None did. Something is cooking.

Tags: Omniture, Visual+Sciences, BI

4 responses to “Does BI Stand for Blindly Indifferent?

  1. Thanks for putting this in writing, Jacques. Like you, I believe that the business intelligence industry should – and eventually will – take more of an active interest in web analytics. This acquisition news was not what I expected to hear.

  2. Actually, I don’t think too much is cooking here unless it’s the fact that the BI vendors themselves are all acquisition targets (case in point: SAP’s acquisition of Business Objects). I have it in on good authority that VS was negotiating with one of the leading BI vendors, but the deal didn’t happen. Although (as you say) it would have definitely been more interesting for a BI vendor to acquire VS, my opinion is that it would have been a bad thing for customers and for continued innovation in the digital marketing sector. All the BI vendors know is enterprise software; they don’t understand SAAS. They also don’t have the domain (Internet and marketing) expertise to take an acquisition in this sector to new levels. Remember in the early 2000s when the BI vendors did try to enter the web analytics arena and/or deliver analytic applications to marketers. None of those efforts were successful. In the near term, I think it’s best for the digital marketing sector for vendors to remain independent or keep marriages within the sector. So, for now, while the news of the Omniture acquisition isn’t necessarily exciting, I think it will be better in the longrun than an acquisition by a traditional BI player. For some related insight, I recently published some comments on the development of the “online marketing suite” in my newly launched blog at

  3. June: Thanks for your comment. Me too I would have been more interested in something beyond market integration. I am wirting this on the day we learned about the WebTrends firing. Big questions marks now raised in Portland.

    Elena: Great comment! Your reading of the situation is very clever, and you’re right, there was a time when the BI companies tried their had at Web Analytics. This brings us to the question of who will own the analytics when all data, the web ones and the enterprise ones, will be integrated. Won’t BI companies be forced to act? Thanks for your comment.

    Gabriel: et oui!

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