The online analytical processing (Olap) market is growing at 140 per cent per year, but users should only buy tools with a short term return on investment because the industry is still consolidating and changing.
Users should also ignore vendor hype when making a purchasing decision because there is no one tool that fits all users' varying information needs, according to Howard Dresner, vice president and research director at the Gartner Group, in his keynote speech at the Business Intelligence 1997 show in London last week.
He said: ?Users should go for a fairly short return on investment because the technology they are expecting may not emerge. It is becoming more intelligent, but innovations may be mixed into the soup and not emerge as separate products. One size also doesn?t fit all, no matter what the vendors say, because different types of users have different requirements. The technology is all over the map and I?ve not seen any useful benchmarks to see if the products measure up. Some do no more than the average spreadsheet.?
But he did expect to see technology such as intelligent agents coming to the fore. These would emerge as Java applets that could search the Web under predefined parameters and find relevant information, in a similar fashion to so-called push technology.
Dresner said that, as the market became more mature, users were starting to move towards shrinkwrapped Olap applications for specific vertical markets rather than the traditional, but more limited, query and reporting tools, although this sector would still continue to grow.
The most popular vertical applications were finance, marketing and sales, although Dresner warned that users needed to ensure that a given package fitted their organisation or could be customised to fit, and to check out whether their vendor had expertise in that sector.
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