Global spending on BI (business intelligence), analytics and performance management applications jumped 13.4 percent in 2010 to $10.5 billion (£6.3 billion), according to figures released Wednesday by analyst firm Gartner.
The results reflect the BI market's continued strength throughout the world's economic downturn, as customers looked to such software to find efficiencies and gain competitive advantage.
Although enterprise software spending dropped 2.5 percent in 2009, during the height of the global recession, BI sales grew "in the low single digits", Gartner analyst Dan Sommer said via email. While customer demand played a role, aggressive marketing efforts of BI vendors were also influential, according to Gartner.
BI remains dominated by a handful of major players. SAP, IBM, Oracle and Microsoft alone control 59 percent of the market for BI and performance management software, according to Gartner, while SAS Institute holds the top spot for analytics.
While not able to provide specific percentages, Sommer estimated that "a fairly big portion" of new BI revenue came from existing users adding licences, versus brand-new projects.
"But overall we did see a shift from 'maintenance' to 'licence' and from 'build' to 'buy'," he added. "In 2009, most vendors found it challenging to sell new licences, as discretionary spending in IT budgets was frozen. As a result, vendors came up with increasingly creative strategies to squeeze maintenance revenue out of their customers."
Last year, improved economic conditions and some major product releases from IBM, Oracle and others "drove renewed licence selling efforts and released pent-up demand", Sommer said.
BI revenues could only grow further in coming years, as vendors pursue strategies meant to get the software into more users' hands.
This week, Microstrategy followed other companies in announcing a product that enables "self-service" BI, wherein business users can explore and analyse data on their own, without much help from IT staffers.
Forrester Research recently predicted that the rise of tablets will significantly increase the prevalence of mobile BI since their larger screens are more suitable for the types of visualisations and navigation styles that make BI software most useful.