Mark Cunningham joined Infostrux CEO, Goran Kimovski (Kima) for a live fireside chat. During the discussion, they covered a wide array of topics including the history of Business Intelligence, the Data Analytics industry, and technology trends that shaped and will continue to shape the industry.
Kima: Given the predictions people made about data 15 – 20 years ago, and considering where we are at data, what has been the most surprising thing about the data landscape?
Mark: There’s a lot of water under the bridge in the BI space. It has been a very challenging space to work in and solve problems. It’s a complicated beast. The problems are not simple, and there are many problems to solve. The volume of data is growing, the complexity of data is increasing, the speed of data is increasing… so I think all of those things come together to form the perfect storm of complexity, which is very difficult to solve.
But therein lies massive opportunity.
I’ve been beating the BI analytic / big data drum for decades now, but I think the biggest surprise is just how little progress we have made in some regards.
One of the biggest challenges is that data is siloed – it’s hard to access. So we centralized the data, built technologies on top so that the data could be analyzed by the right people at the right time so that they could make decisions, and so on.
I feel like that story is somewhat continued to be beat up. I can literally take some of the technology from our brochures in Crystal Reports in 1992 and put them on top of the exact same messages of companies today – exactly. I can’t tell you how many times I get start-ups that come and pitch me on their big cool analytic solution and it literally is almost verbatim the copy that we had in our Crystal marketing materials in 1992.
One of the ways we’ve made substantial progress and innovations is on cloud technology, in particular cloud warehousing and cloud storage. The likes of Amazon and Google and so on have done a great job building out this elastic cloud world.
However, I still think we’re living in a world where many people are still struggling to transition into this new data world. The BI industry and the analytic industry have struggled. It has been somewhat stagnant.
If we take a historical look, even between the time we started Crystal Reports to the mid-200os, it was kind of status quo – there were a few acquisitions like ours. Then in the mid-2000s some big players came along and got into space.
If you look at Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, I think at one time there were like 585 analytics companies on the list, with 580 of them for sale. Basically, five of them were the real players that were doing everything, and everybody else was just swarming around looking for their niche in hopes that they either become a big company, which was hard or one of these big companies acquired them.
I think the big BI players struggled somewhat because they started to become big behemoths. Consolidation started to happen where they started buying up all these companies. Then what happened is they would have this big brittle monolithic technology that the likes of Tableau and Qlik… these kinds of companies start coming up and they do start gaining some market share. There was some shift taking place. Later on, roughly in 2014 / 15, there started to be a lot more activity.
That really started to shift things but it really has been a little bit stagnant. I was kind of hoping we were going to have the ‘iPhone moment’ to some extent. I don’t think we’re quite there yet. I’m not saying I have the solution, if I did, I would be launching another start-up in this space.
Despite this somewhat pessimistic view I have, that means there is still tons of opportunity to innovate. The question is can we find a place for the complexity to go – that is really the challenge.