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Oracle was chosen as Best Business Intelligence Vendor at the V3 Technology Awards 2012. After the show, we caught up with Nick Whitehead, senior director for business intelligence (BI) at Oracle UK, to hear about what is currently driving the BI industry and where Oracle sees the future for mobile, big data and analytics.
V3: Congratulations on your win, how does it feel to be chosen by the V3 readers as Best Business Intelligence Vendor 2012?
Nick Whitehead, senior director for business intelligence (BI) at Oracle UK: It’s absolutely great to receive this award. It represents a milestone and a great endorsement of Oracle’s mission to make business intelligence (BI) a technology which, when implemented well and widely used within an organisation, has the power to transform a business by enabling better decision making at all levels. I’m honoured to accept this reward on behalf of Oracle, and would like to thank everybody who voted for us.
What has been the highlight of 2012 for your division and Oracle in general?
2012 has been a good year for Oracle in BI. For a start we’ve seen a shift in the market towards business analytics. What’s the difference? A desire from our customers to have a single integrated solution spanning BI scorecards, dashboards and reports; performance management; advanced analytics and predictive analytics; and real time and automated decision making. Hard work, if your vendor does not provide a complete and integrated platform.
Secondly, the interest in mobile computing as a platform for delivering insight to executives wherever they are, whenever they want it and enable them to take immediate action. With Oracle BI, it’s easy to deploy the same reports, dashboards, scorecards and reports onto the desktop or your iPad.
A key highlight of the year for BI has been the introduction of two new products into the UK market.
The first is Exalytics, which is the industry’s first hardware platform designed specifically for business analytics workload. It’s going to transform the user’s experience when using BI. Because all the processing of the information is done in-memory - it’s got 1TB of RAM - performance is very impressive, even on large data sets. It works as fast as users think: no more wait time when navigating dashboards.
The second is Endeca Information Discovery. Information discovery is a new way of thinking about analytics. It starts with the assumption that you don’t know what you might find out when you start. Business users start with questions like “I wish I knew”. This is in contrast and complementary to BI, which is great at answering clearly defined questions. Characteristic of data discovery is the need to be able to very quickly explore new data – often unstructured, certainly un-modeled – to find answers to new questions you’ve never thought of before. Endeca Information Discovery satisfies these types of questions.
More broadly at Oracle, we’ve just shipped our one thousandth engineered system to a customer in our region, Europe, Middle East Africa.
Finally, Oracle’s strength in cloud computing. As we have just reported in our Q2 results, sales of cloud versions of our software were $230m in the quarter, up from $222m the previous quarter.
How does big data fit in with the future of BI?
Ninety percent of the world’s data has been created in the last two years and that volume is expected to multiply 50 times before 2020. There’s been a lot of talk about big data this year.
Often it is talked about as a problem for IT – how do you capture and store all that new information? There’s lots of it, it’s arriving fast and there’s lots of variety. Our customers are starting to ask ‘how do we get business value from all that data we’ve never captured or analysed before’.
I think that’s a better question. Value is realised with analytics. And we want to help our customers find answers with business analytics. In every industry we’re seeing answers emerging, new business models where using all this new data is imperative. Once the business case is clear and understood, we can help them solve the IT problem with good architecture and engineered systems to allow them to acquire and organise it in a cost effective way.
Madeline Bennett is editor of V3 and The INQUIRER. Previously, she was editor of IT Week. Prior to becoming a journalist, Madeline was an English teacher at a London secondary school. Madeline is a regular technology commentator on TV and radio, including Sky, BBC and CNN.