WOW – big surprising news in the BI and Analytics industry today! TIBCO acquired Jaspersoft, popular open-source BI platform vendor with both Cloud IaaS or on premise BI solutions for ETL, OLAP, operational reporting, dashboards and mobile. Jaspersoft was one of two leading open-source BI platform vendors that has been steadily, rapidly gaining market share and interest in the BI professional developer community. Jaspersoft is particularly strong in the ISV and embedded BI application niches due to low-cost, friendly, commercial solution licensing and strong SaaS multi-tenancy. Pentaho is the other leading open-source BI platform player today. This $185 million acquisition loudly sends a message…TIBCO is getting serious about BI and analytics moving forward.

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TIBCO, “the quiet giant”, has been getting a lot of coverage on my blog lately because they are making more noise. This week was supposed to be the follow up SAP Infinite Insight (KXEN) reveal but the Jaspersoft news is way too huge of a story to wait on the blog backlog. I have been following Jaspersoft since late 2011, reading SlideShare and even evaluating their easy-button, spin-up Jaspersoft trial cloud solution several times. In my latest review this past December 2013, I noted that they were making good strides in the migration from a Flash UI to HTML5 UI, data source connectivity, mobile and dashboards. All in all, I felt Jaspersoft had a basic BI platform offering that was ahead of Pentaho in usability and traditional BI feature sets but behind the other major vendor BI players. I liked the direct data source connectivity – no data copy, uploads. I also appreciated the solid technical architecture, application integration APIs, scheduled report distribution and both browser-based mobile BI and native mobile BI apps iOS and Android devices.

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Personally I found Jaspersoft development clunky, programming intensive and time-consuming. Make no mistake, it was a traditional, long BI build experience platform. Now it is notable to share that each time I review Jaspersoft, the solution does seem to get a little better. Also in speaking with several Jaspersoft developers, they do like the ETL and operational reporting a lot but frequently complain about limited in-depth dashboard feature sets, lacking interactive visualizations, charting and low “sizzle factor”. My bottom line on Jaspersoft a few months ago was 1) they were a viable contender in the basic BI platform space 2) savings in licensing costs are not realized because you end up paying more for higher and hard to find BI developer/programmer talent and 3) you will experience longer than industry average BI project development times.

Keep in mind that where Jaspersoft is weak in dashboards, data discovery and predictive, TIBCO is strong. These two solution offerings do complement one another. TIBCO’s bold move should elevate their BI and analytic market position – especially now that TIBCO has an operational reporting tool to supplement TIBCO Spotfire data discovery.

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Tableau and QlikView, the other two market leading data discovery players, DO NOT have operational reporting which still accounts for the majority of BI functions actually needed and used by BI users. I can’t tell you how many times that I have shared tips and tricks for combining Tableau with Microsoft Reporting Services or SAP Crystal Reports to fulfill common operational needs during a data discovery tool vendor selection. The folks tasked with data discovery are not the BI user majority. Think about it, how often are you tasked to “explore”? Those jobs are the few and far between. Most likely you are ordered to provide answers and deliver a dashboard or report to the field. The field users might in turn choose parameters, drill-downs and filters but they often do not truly “explore” data.

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TIBCO has a history of being open-source community friendly with their TERR and S+/R. The two developer communities should easily gel together. I do hope that the TIBCO big-firm, corporate world does not suffocate Jaspersoft and Spotfire innovation. I have noticed that Spotfire does seem more held-back now versus empowered since their TIBCO acquisition. There is something to be said for niche focus, less cross business unit integration distractions and smaller company agility. Alteryx, a stand-alone focused ETL player, has literally sky-rocketed this past year. Tableau and QlikView do shine today as stand-alone data discovery vendors. However the pure-play, data discovery market is becoming a commodity. Data discovery vendors do need more breadth or extreme depth in the longer term to stay alive in the intensely crowded BI and analytics game. I would not at all be surprised to see more mergers and acquisitions in the coming year from ETL, statistics, predictive, prescriptive, cognitive BI, big data and other niche vendors.