BI has become one of the most promising sectors in the global information technology market, and it is also an important part in the enterprise informationization evolution in China. Statistics showed that in 2007, the BI market in mainland China had reached 2 billion yuan (US$ 260 million), up 35% from 2006, consisting of BI product licensing of 900 million yuan and BI system integration of 1.1 billion yuan. There are currently more than 500 BI companies (product developers, integrators, distributors and service providers) employing about 80,000 employees in China.
BI is usually referred to as software solutions that can compile existing enterprise data into proper knowledge, in order to assist a company's decision making process. BI usually involves the following technologies: data mart, data warehouse, user query & report, online analytical processing (OLAP), data mining, key performance indicators and analytic application.
Leading BI technology companies in China
Guangzhou Sunnet - Sunnet has been operating for nine years, starting from the basic multi-dimensional analytical product BlueQuery2.6 in 2001 to the latest BlueQueryEnterpriseV product for enterprise multi-dimensional analytical services.
Shanghai Tenly Software - Tenly's Markway-branded products include analytical systems, network mining system, intelligent reporting and informationization testing software. Its Markway analytical system was the first Chinese language-based, large-scale statistics analysis and data mining software with proprietary intellectual property in China.
ADM Software - ADM has successfully completed more than 200 large and medium scale projects, with relatively sophisticated BI solutions for the financial, aerospace, retail and government sectors. ADM has become a leader in the enterprise decision-making supporting system field in China.
Beijing Ourway Power Co - This is a fast-growing company for enterprise informationization of small and medium enterprises. Its Power-BI enterprise decision analytical system is the first fast-installation BI software in China.
Due to the surging global mergers and acquisitions activities in 2007, the BI software market from now on will be dominated by IBM, Oracle, SAP and Microsoft, and specialist BI companies such as SAS, Informatica and Microstrategy are expected to lead the product developments in the industry. Currently local Chinese BI companies have a market share of 36% in China, and Chinese BI licenses only make up of 6% of total BI licensing revenue in China.
Multinational BI advantages
Revenue sources of multinational BI companies in China mainly come from product sales, technical services and large-scale project integration. Multinationals currently have competitive advantages in data warehouses, data mining, ETL (Extract, Transform and Load), reporting and OLAP, with strong market shares in large projects of financial, telecommunication, insurance and energy sectors.
Domestic BI advantages
Local Chinese BI companies are making most money from system integration and product sales, and local system integration companies have captured half of the system integration market of financial and telecommunication sectors. Local BI product developers have achieved significant progress in 2007, especially BI reporting products from Sunnet and Runqian. Although product developers have successfully upgraded their core technologies, the key for their sales achievements last year still lies in the cooperative partnerships with downstream integrators and distributors.
The BI markets of financial, telecommunication and insurance industries had all experienced 20% or so growth rates in 2007, while 30%-plus growth rates were seen in energy, manufacturing and government sectors. The environment for implementing corporate-scale BI systems is becoming sophisticated in large companies, so it remains an important part of the whole BI market of China for the next three years. Medium size companies will be the major growth spot in the Chinese BI market, as this segment will be in a development phase in the next three years. BI systems for small companies are still at an early stage, and it is expected to be maturing in five years' time. Overall, demand for BI products in China will enter a fast growing phase in the next five years, with an estimated 5 billion yuan value, and followed by another three years of post-maturity extension period.
BI softwares can be more independently implemented in large Chinese companies, while BI capabilities in small and medium enterprises may still have to rely on management softwares such as ERP and CRM. Therefore, it is expected that there will be an increasing number of BI products being embedded into ERP and CRM management softwares as complementary capabilities. But for the long term, BI developers in China should pay more attention to operative BI products.
The biggest constraints for popularizing BI products are their high prices and lack of supporting talents. While industries such as finance, telecommunication, insurance, energy and electricity may have higher reliance on BI capabilities, companies from other industries may require relatively smaller BI investments. The whole BI industry in China is expected to become more competitive, reducing the overall pricing level. Therefore, there would be a higher volume of BI license sales, but total sales value growth may remain relatively stable.
Segment market demand analysis
Demand for BI products of different segments may change over time, and the performance results in 2007 were as follows:
Reporting and OLAP products - Reporting is a basic aspect of BI capabilities, and OLAP multi-dimensional analysis is an outstanding feature of BI. Although reporting and OLAP products accounted for 45% of the BI market, this segment was highly competitive, with multinational players capturing more than 80% of shares.
Data Warehouse Products - Data warehouse and data mart products were another foundation for BI projects, accounting for 40% of China's BI market, with foreign providers occupying prominent market positions.
ETL and data integration tools - Although ETL and data integration accounted for 40% of a typical BI project, ETL tools only had a 9% market share in China. Many applications are still based on manual coding methods in China, which means it will take some time for ETL tools to get popularised.
Data mining - Data mining technologies, with 3% market shares in 2007, have now relatively matured, but the lack of technical support experts is hindering their acceptance.
Other products such as performance management, KPI and meta data collectively had 3% market shares in China last year.