June 23, 2013

Kscope - Oracle Business Analytics Strategy & New Features

"Business Analytics is a key strategic priority for Oracle."
                 - Paul Rodwick

I'm sitting in the Kscope13 BI Symposium listening to keynote speaker Paul Rodwick, VP of Oracle BI Product Management. Paul was rather interesting despite his flight having landed in New Orleans at 4AM.  On 3-4 hours sleep, Paul reviewed Oracle's Business Analytics strategy.  It's surprising to me how little Oracle's EPM/BI architecture has changed over the last 5 years (other than the renaming to "Oracle Business Analytics."  This is a good thing.
Why?  Because over the last 5 years, the architecture has gone from a products-integrating-is-a-theoretically-good-idea-so-let's-put-it-on-a-slide-cross-our-fingers-and-see-what-happens to an actual integrated solution that uses the various products in the Oracle Business Analytics line together with each product doing a key part.  Instead of "Essbase or OBIEE or an application?" it's "Essbase as the cube platform, OBIEE as the front-end, applications for needs that are often common across multiple companies."

So now that Oracle has gotten the basics out of the way, they're looking to expand their Business Analytics offerings.  Their key focuses for the immediate future are big data, mobile, in-memory computing, and cloud-based analytics.  The last two really speak to technology of deployment (in-memory and cloud), big data seems to be one of those things that everyone is talking about and no one's quite sure what to do with for the moment, but mobile is on everyone's minds and people are actually doing something about it.  To further that immediate mobile need, Oracle is releasing new functionality in every release or patch of the Oracle mobile analytics products.  For instance, Oracle now has a full mobile security toolkit (available on OTN) for companies that want greater security than native Apple iOS provides.

Paul discussed some of the key features in the release (including Smart View as the primary Office front-end for BI going forward).  He mentioned that the bundled patch for OBIEE will be out on a few weeks, so prep yourself for  He also talked about some recent improvements to Endeca in version 3.0 of that product.  While I love Endeca's extremely powerful ability to discover information in unstructured data, right now, most companies are still focused on analyzing their structured information.  Unstructured analysis is definitely coming: it's just only being deployed by a handful of leading-edge companies at the moment.

Where Are They Going?

The key releases we should see in the next 9-12 months will revolve around these themes:
  • Visual analysis.  They're trying to make the analysis more intuitive because the majority of users don't spend their day being analysts: they want the system to help them find issues quickly so they can make better business decisions faster.
  • Mobile Analytics. Oracle is planning to create a BI Mobile "Applications Designer" that will allow developers to make HTML5 applications purpose-built for mobile deployment.  They will also continue to improve the mobile applications every version but they didn't go into what some of the new improvements are going to be specifically beyond more HTML5 deployment.
  • Exalytics.  They promised a new Exalytics announcement in the near future.  I'm presuming this refers to the new Exalytics X3-4 version that's mentioned on the June 4 Oracle Engineered System Price List (page 5).  I expect this will be detailed more during Steve Liebermensch's session later this week.
  • Cloud analytics.  Oracle is making a huge investment in the cloud and it looks like there will be more and more applications in Oracle Business Analytics that run in the cloud.  This makes it a lot easier for customers to get immediate ROI from a BI implementation without huge server investments.
  • Big data.  Part of Oracle's strategy in this area is to tie into any data in any source behind the scenes into Oracle BI.  Data agnostic
  • Predictive analytics.  Paul didn't really talk to this one other than to tease that they do have dedicated resources to expanding the Predictive Analytics capabilities of Oracle BI Foundation Suite.  There is some P.A. functionality in Hyperion Planning, Crystal Ball, and Hyperion Strategic Finance and that sounds like it will be expanded into the BI layer in future releases.
The one thing that's really apparent from Paul's session is that Business Analytics is now a $1+ billion dollar portion of Oracle revenue... and they're treating it as such in terms of research and development.  It's a fast growing space and Oracle seems determined to maintain their market share in overall Business Analytics.

I hope to blog later in the week if any new announcements come out.  Coming to you from Kscope13, this is your humble reporter, Edward Roske.

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