SAP, the big German software company, has made an impressive, if late, entry to the emerging market for real-time data-analysis technology.
The vision, then, is to do for data and knowledge what Moore’s Law has done for computing hardware — that is, quantitative changes become qualitative transformations. Speed opens the door to new possibilities. You start out just crunching numbers but you find your way to “Toy Story.” It’s all just 1’s and 0’s at one level, but ever-faster computing and clever software make possible that new thing — a computer-animated movie, for example.
Today, speed is starting to put real-time analysis of varied kinds of data, a long-sought goal, within reach. “That’s the next step,” said Yvonne Genovese, an analyst at Gartner. “All the big enterprise software companies are chasing it,” she said, mentioning I.B.M., Oracle, Hewlett-Packard and SAP. (There are plenty of others too, including EMC; the SAS Institute, the specialist in business analytics; and several start-ups.)