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That Was the Year that Was: Major Data Warehousing Events of 2012 (and Predictions for 2013)

How well did we predict 2012's big events, and what's ahead for 2013?

As 2012 draws to a close, it's time to once again review some of the major events of the year and speculate on what might occur in 2013. First, let's review my predictions from last year:

Results of Last Year's Predictions

In December of 2011, I predicted that the following would occur in 2012:

Further industry consolidations: My prediction about additional consolidations proved correct. Companies large and small continued to acquire other companies in order to gain complementary technology and/or additional market share. See the "Major Data Warehousing Events of 2012" section (below) for details. However, my most likely acquisition target, Informatica, continues to remain independent.

Oracle will further expand its hardware/software platforms: With the release of the Oracle Big Data Appliance (in January 2012) and Oracle Exalytics, an in-memory analytic appliance (in February 2012), this prediction was confirmed. Together with Exadata and Exalogic, Oracle now has four appliances that run on hardware that evolved from its Sun acquisition.

Consumer BI will be a catalyst for pervasive BI: One of the enabling technologies for consumer BI (e.g., in-store price comparisons, user opinions, and product ratings) is mobile functionality and ubiquitous access to associated apps. Confirming this prediction is the fact that consumers are demanding comparable functionality for their work-related business intelligence applications and that almost all BI vendors now highlight their ability to support mobile clients.

Predictive analytics will thrive: Consumers leave a data trail everywhere they go that companies (and governments) are eager to mine. The growth of the use of the term "data scientist," whose skills include data mining, in job postings and résumé skill sets, provides evidence that predictive analytics is thriving -- as does the publicity predictive analytics received in conjunction with its use in predicting the 2012 election outcomes.

Data monitoring and data warehouse management utilities will thrive: Although not necessarily a headline issue, organizations and vendors have recognized at a DBA can't do it all without help. Furthermore, security breaches, hacker threats, and the growing acceptance of "bring your own device" (BYOD) environments have made data monitoring and access control more important than ever and thus supported this prediction.

Major Data Warehousing Events of 2012

Industry consolidations continued: Among the consolidations in 2012 were IBM's acquisitions of Butterfly Software for data backup and migration software, Tealeaf Technology for customer behavior analysis, Texas Memory Systems for its solid state storage technology, Worklight for mobile applications, Varicent Software for compensation and sales performance management software, and Vivisimo for enterprise search.

Oracle acquired cloud vendors RightNow for CRM, ClearTrial for clinical-trial tracking and analysis, and Taleo for human resource management. SAP acquired Ariba for its cloud-based e-commerce applications software and completed its acquisition of SuccessFactors, a cloud-based business commerce network vendor. Microsoft acquired social-networking vendor Yammer, and Teradata acquired digital marketing vendor eCircle. Informatica, a potential acquisition target itself, went on the offensive and announced a tender offer for product information and MDM vendor Heiler Software AG.

Big data is huge: Almost every data warehouse vendor has jumped aboard the "big data bandwagon" even if they don't all define it the same way or even agree on the number of Vs (e.g., volume, velocity, variability, veracity, value). It seems that the sub-headline of almost every vendor press release mentioned new or enhanced big data capabilities even when functionality to handle increased data volumes was not necessarily a new feature.

Hewlett Packard's steep decline: HP continued to disappoint investors and even some loyal customers as they realized that there is no short-term turnaround in sight. This has led customers and prospects to question the future of HP's technology. As of Thanksgiving 2012, the company's stock has declined by 50 percent from the start of the year and it appears that accounting "irregularities" and the associated $8+ billion write down, have made its over-valued, late-2011 acquisition of Autonomy even more questionable.

One small victory for HP was that after dropping support for HP's Itanium-chip based computers, Oracle lost a lawsuit to HP and was directed by court order to continue to support them. HP is one of the few major server vendors to use the Intel Itanium chip and Oracle's 2011 announcement of non-support led prospects who deployed the Oracle database to seek other hardware servers including Oracle's.

GM insourcing: As part of an Information Technology reorganization General Motors' CIO announced plans to "insource" IT work that it had previously outsourced. GM is expected to hire approximately 10,000 IT professionals worldwide as part of this effort. As several other major corporations have complained about rising labor costs and the lack of employee continuity associated with outsourcing, GM's move may be foreshadowing a new trend.

Facebook's IPO fizzled, Workday's IPO soared: After much ado, Facebook's initial public offering proved to be a severe disappointment to investor's who placed orders to acquire it at its opening price. Although employees and pre-IPO investors may have been disappointed with the stock's sharp decline, they are likely still in the money based on their own pre-IPO acquisition costs. Other private high-tech companies will give very serious consideration to being acquired rather than going public and thus lead to further industry consolidations. However, Workday's first-day jump may somewhat offset future IPO jitters.

In-memory technology is everywhere: Greatly reduced memory costs and the theoretical ability of 64-bit architectures to directly address vast (over 10^19 bytes) amounts of data have served to make in-memory computing more feasible. IBM, Oracle, SAP, SAS, and Teradata are just a few of the major vendors that have aggressively embraced in-memory databases and/or analytics.

Predictions for 2013

Here are a few of the things I expect to see in 2013.

Industry consolidations will continue: Industry consolidations will continue as larger vendors try to augment their capabilities in order to deliver more pieces of a total data warehousing solution including data integration, database, business intelligence, and, in some cases, hardware. I expect vendors still lacking "big data," social media connections, and in-memory solutions to seek out and acquire smaller vendors that do.

As I have been predicting for the past few years, I still expect Informatica to be a likely acquisition target, albeit at a greatly reduced acquisition cost than would have been offered last year due to earnings disappointments and a declining stock price. HP may also be a likely acquisition target due to growing investor disappointment with the company's financial progress and acquisition write-downs.

Predictive analytics will become better predictors: Technologies such as in-memory databases, commodity-based MPP processing, NoSQL, solid state storage, text analytics, and analytic appliances continue to increase in power while decreasing in cost. When harnessed to analyze big data sources (such as social media, click streams, RFIDs, and search logs), this will result in more accurate predictive analytics and, thanks to data visualization technology, be much easier for business users to utilize and comprehend. In addition to traditional revenue-generation applications, expect to see increasing deployment of predictive analytics in health care, risk analysis, and fraud detection and prevention.

Cloud-based computing growth will accelerate: Although on-demand computing was once viewed as a way for small to mid-sized organizations to minimize capital expenditures and the need for expensive staff resources associated with on-premise solutions, it is now a mainstream channel for software, computing power, and storage. Software vendors that once offered cloud-based solutions so they could claim a cloud presence will start to emphasize them if only to compete at the departmental level against an entrenched, on-premise competitor. Hardware vendors will offer virtualized platform services to attract new customers and allow their on-premise customers flexibility to accommodate peak demands.

Ease-of-use will become even more important: As business intelligence continues to become more pervasive, the current emphasis on features and functions will become secondary to providing ease-of-use solutions for the non-technical business user. Technology appeals to the technical data scientist, but business users seek products that they can deploy without having to understand the details of underlying algorithms and technology.

Windows 8 won't set the business world on fire: Organizations will not rush to embrace the Windows 8 operating system in 2013. Although Vista was widely ignored by the business community, Windows 7 has achieved greater success and organizations that deployed it are satisfied. However Windows 8 tablets, especially Microsoft's Surface, will eat into Apple's market share in the consumer market and may drive organizations with liberal "bring your own device" to ultimately migrate to Windows 8 on their PCs.

I'll report on the accuracy of these predictions next year, when I make new ones for 2014.

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