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Welcome to BI Showdown: Oracle Hyperion System 9 vs. Microsoft ProClarity vs. Exact Business Analytics

Written By: Lyndsay Wise
Published On: September 26 2007

Welcome to BI Showdown:
Oracle Hyperion System 9 vs. Microsoft ProClarity vs. Exact Business Analytics

I'm Lyndsay Wise, senior research analyst at Technology Evaluation Centers. Welcome to another in TEC's series of enterprise software Vendor Showdowns. Today's showdown pits three of the top business intelligence (BI) vendors against each other in a head-to-head contest: Oracle's Hyperion System 9 vs. Microsoft ProClarity vs. Exact Business Analytics. We hope you find this Vendor Showdown helpful and informative, and invite your comments and questions at showdown@technologyevaluation.com.


Introduction

In the last couple of years, acquisitions within the business intelligence (BI) world have become commonplace. Much has been written about what this means for the industry and on how the consolidation of data integration and business performance management (BPM) vendors within BI will impact the industry as a whole. Customers may be left wondering what it will mean for them if their software provider is acquired, or if this is already the case, what it means for the future of BI within their organizations, since vendors do not always provide insight into their product road map until well after an acquisition.

To illustrate how the acquisition of BI suites helps vendors expand and enhance their product offerings, the following vendors have been chosen for this Vendor Showdown: Exact Software, Oracle, and Microsoft. Comparing these three vendors also highlights the fact that providers have different purposes when acquiring best-of-breed solution vendors. To explore this concept further, a brief explanation of each of the above vendors' focus will be provided. Moving one step further, an analysis of the rankings will be given to shed light on why Exact Software, Oracle, and Microsoft may rate the way they do.

We used our BI Evaluation Center to compare the three solutions. The results are based on the most recent request for information (RFI) data supplied to us by Oracle, Microsoft, and Exact, and indicate their levels of support for each of the 1,433 functional criteria that make up the reporting and analysis, analytics, data warehousing, and data integration modules in our BI Evaluation Center.

To eliminate any chance of bias and to ensure a level playing field, all the criteria were given equal weight and priority. In other words, no area of functionality was treated as being more important than any other.

Overall Ratings

The graph below identifies the overall feature and functionality ratings for Exact Business Analytics, Oracle's Hyperion System 9, and Microsoft's ProClarity within the categories of reporting and analysis, analytics, data warehousing, and data integration. These categories represent the essential areas of a BI solution discussed in this showdown. The rating levels are tied to the overall focus of the vendor and the priority placed on BI. For instance, Exact Software's main software offering is enterprise resource planning (ERP)- and customer relationship management (CRM)-based, whereas Oracle already has its own BI platform, and it acquired Hyperion to expand its offerings.

Overall Product Ratings Graph

Overview of Vendor Focus

BI is a rapidly changing industry, as organizations look for ways to enhance their ability to analyze their current performance and to plan for future successes within their respective market places. When organizations look for BI solutions, they must decide whether to choose a best-of-breed solution or, as the vendors featured in this showdown provide, a broader offering. Even with this similarity, Exact, Oracle, and Microsoft have different visions of how their customers will benefit from their BI solutions.

Exact Software, with its acquisition of Vanguard Solutions Group in 2005, provides integrated solutions, with business analytics meant to be an enhancement to organizations' ERP, CRM, and human resources management (HRM) solutions. Organizations looking to improve their current Exact solution will consider Exact Business Analytics as an add-on. However, for organizations not considering an integrated approach, Exact Business Analytics will probably not make their BI shortlists. Exact Software's key focus is to offer existing customers an integrated option to BI and ERP, CRM, or HRM.

Oracle's acquisition of Hyperion expands its BI solution to include a full BPM suite. The corporate goal is to offer a fully integrated, end-to-end BI and performance management solution to organizations. Aside from an increase in market share and penetration into key competitors' space, Oracle's hope is to compete with other leading BI vendors in the market. Customers using other Oracle applications with the goal of expansion to include BI cannot assume that seamless integration is a given.

Microsoft's entry into the BI market helps shift attention away from the enterprise market and toward the mid-market. With a trend toward BI offerings for small to medium businesses (SMBs), the acquisition of ProClarity and its integration into Microsoft's BI solution widens options for SMBs. Microsoft's goal of bringing BI to all decision makers in an organization helps push the market toward a focus on the requirements of smaller organizations.

One Step Below the Bird's Eye View

With a general understanding of each vendor's outlook, we can provide an analysis of the features and functionality to help organizations identify how each product compares with the others. Additionally, by linking these scores back to the vendor focus, organizations can look beyond high-level ratings and gain additional insight into whether these vendors offer them the solutions they are looking for.

An Overview of Ratings in the Four Categories

Oracle's Hyperion System 9 leads in the category of Reporting and Analysis, with a slim lead over Microsoft's ProClarity in Data Warehousing and over Exact Business Analytics in the category of Analytics. Generally, data warehousing is the centralized back end of a solution, as all of the information gathered for analysis is stored within a data warehouse. Organizations using BI as an offshoot of current ERP solutions may choose to pull data from operational systems directly for analysis. This may be one reason why Exact Software rates third within this category.

Exact rates second within Reporting and Analysis, as well as in Analytics. Based on Vanguard's advanced business analytics capabilities, it stands to reason that Exact would rate high in these categories, but not as high in the back-end functionality.

Analytics in general is an area where all three of these vendors show lower scores. As illustrated below, these low scores are likely the result of the breakdown in categories within analytics itself. The main reason for lower scores in such areas as data, text, and web mining is because these areas are not as well developed within BI suites. Best-of-breed solution vendors within the analytics space provide integration capabilities to offer organizations advanced functionality, so organizations that require these capabilities generally integrate their solutions with those of best-of-breed vendors. Aside from online analytical processing (OLAP) features, other areas within analytics have only just become important to help organizations gain competitive advantage. Also, within the next couple of years, predictive analytics and data, text, and web mining will become more important, meaning organizations should identify what the expansion of these features and functions will be for each vendor.

Analytics Breakdown Graph

Conclusion

The ratings shown above reflect a high-level view of overall vendor offerings. Vendors that acquire best-of-breed solutions generally use the newly acquired software to enhance their current functionality and offerings to customers, to acquire more market share, or to penetrate a new market, as shown by the vendors in this showdown. When considering BI solutions, organizations wanting to expand their current solutions should consider a vendor's additional functionality and solutions from acquisitions. In addition, these solutions should be compared to best-of-breed solutions, with a focus on future offerings and growth within the organization.

Despite the above considerations, however, there is another factor that must be taken into account. Rankings, whether overall or by module, do not tell you everything you need to know. As indicated above, what they do provide is a basic, high-level view of vendors' general strengths and weaknesses right out of the box. However, the fact is that few businesses, if any, can use an enterprise solution straight out of the box. Your company has distinct needs and priorities that need to be supported by any enterprise solution you adopt.

Given that out-of-the-box rankings rarely, if ever, reflect the real-world needs of an organization, and that the rankings can shift depending on what areas of functionality you look at, how then do you determine which BI solution is best suited for your company?

The fastest, simplest way is to do what we did to produce the results you see here: use TEC's BI Evaluation Center . We got our results in 20 minutes, versus weeks—or even months—of struggling with huge spreadsheets.

TEC's BI Evaluation Center allows you to set priorities that reflect your organization's business model and special needs at every level of functionality. At the modular and submodular levels—even down to the individual criterion—you can tell the system which business processes are critical, important, or not important to your organization. The system then compares your priorities against the vendor responses to produce a shortlist of solutions. You get a custom comparison—one that ranks vendor solutions not on out-of-the-box functionality, but rather on how well that functionality matches the business requirements of your organization.

It's the best way we know of to evaluate BI solutions, and we invite you to give it a run-through. Simply click on the link below to visit our BI Evaluation Center and conduct your fast, free custom BI comparison. After all, there's no other organization quite like yours.

For a free custom comparison of BI solutions, click below. Find out which BI solutions are best suited to your company's particular requirements and type of business.

 
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