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Yellowfin CEO: Big Data Hurting Business Intelligence and Analytics

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

CEO of global Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics vendor Yellowfin, Glen Rabie, has stated that industry dialogue around Big Data has negatively impacted the business analytics software market.

Rabie made the comments during a podcast with independent BI analyst, Claudia Imhoff, as part of a briefing with the internationally renowned Boulder BI Brain Trust (BBBT).

The BBBT is a BI forum based in Denver, Colorado. The BBBT is a gathering of leading BI analysts, experts and practitioners, who participate in regular half-day briefings with ‘interesting and innovative BI vendors’.

Big Data rhetoric disrupting BI market

“Let’s turn to the more philosophical part of the podcast,” said Imhoff – BBBT host and Present & Founder of Intelligent Solutions (the company responsible for coordinating the BBBT and producing its events). “You did make an interesting statement – one that I’d like you to explain. You said that Big Data is actually hurting BI.”

Rabie: “Look, Big Data as a technology and a concept is fantastic, and so that’s not the point. What I was really aiming at is that I think it’s a step backwards in terms of the engagement model of the BI industry with its customers. And what I mean by that, is it’s become a very technically complex conversation. So rather than being about the business, and what businesses do with their data, and how we’ll help them to make decisions, all we’re doing now is selling the virtues of technology. We’re not being very precise about when to use what. And so we’ve created this level of complexity that’s creating paralysis with our customers. Our customers don’t know what to use and when to use it, and we as an industry aren’t helping them. We’re not saying ‘this is when you use Hadoop, this is when you use a columnar database, this is when you just hit your relational database. [What we as an industry are saying is that] we want you to spend lots of money with us, buying all this technology, whether you need it or not. You’ve got to have a strategy and a business problem to solve. People shouldn’t buy technology for the sake of it.”

Imhoff: “I think I would agree with you, the marketing hype has been over-the-top – actually that doesn’t even begin to cut it. Especially around Big Data and what data science will do for an organization. I do think there’s value there, I do think there’s a good future there. But I think that the over-marketing has caused tremendous confusion. Not only just in IT, but also, as you say, in the business as well. [And as a result] there’s almost this paralysis of ‘I don’t know which way to jump’. We’ve got all this technology – almost too much technology at our fingertips now. [Now the problem is] which one do I pick to solve what problem?”

Rabie: “And no vendor is actually helping in that space. No one is saying this is when you use my technology, this is the most appropriate time, or this is the most appropriate use case. Everyone’s saying we will solve all your problems, which is just not true.”

Gartner back Rabie’s position

Recent findings from international enterprise technology analyst firm, Gartner, have backed Rabie’s position, stating that extensive confusion among potential purchasers regarding the definitions and differences between the terms ‘Big Data’, ‘BI’ and ‘analytics’ is “blunting BI spend”.

"Business Intelligence managed to grow by a reasonable seven percent in 2012, [with] confusion related to emerging technology terms causing a hold on purse strings," said Principal Research Analyst at Gartner, Dan Sommer, in a statement.

The global BI software market grew 17 percent in 2011 over 2010. Rabie – Imhoff podcast

The entire interview between Rabie and Imhoff can be listened to here.

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