The Future of Business Intelligence

Business intelligence software vendors continue to work to make the technology available to a broader range of users and increase the adoption rate within organizations. Here is a snapshot of some new uses:

Office Apps/Mobile Access
Cognos in 2005 introduced, as part of its new Cognos 8 business intelligence software, a feature called Go! Office, which lets organizations interact with content within commonly used Microsoft Office applications.

In September 2006, Cognos rolled out Go! Mobile, a mobile-client interface that lets employees use a handheld device to read and interact with Cognos 8 BI reports and metric information. Cognos and Research In Motion recently formed an alliance to deliver Cognos 8 Go! Mobile to BlackBerry users in early 2007.

Tools for Thin Clients
Information Builders in April launched WebFocus Power Painter, a feature that provides reporting and analytics in a thin-client environment. The first release of Power Painter is geared to “power users,” the company says, but it’s the beginning of a strategy to deliver a single tool addressing the needs of all thin-client users.

“Operational” Business Intelligence
In June, Business Objects introduced a product called BusinessObjects XI Built for Operational BI, designed to make the XI platform useful to more people in an organization. XI Built for Operational BI is part of a strategic initiative by the company to make BI more capable of real-time reporting.

Search Capabilities
Software vendors are linking their products to online search engines. In March, Cognos brought out Go! Search Service, a business intelligence search capability that enables employees to instantly find relevant information available through Cognos 8. The browser-based search application ranks results based on user priorities from reports, analyses and dashboards across an organization.

Information Builders around the same time unveiled WebFocus Intelligent Search, which combines its iWay integration technology with the Google Search Appliance and a Google front end. Enterprises can use Google with Information Builders BI products to more easily find corporate data stored in their data center.

Shortly after these search capabilities were introduced, SAS announced technology with Google that lets workers perform contextually relevant searches from SAS BI software using Google’s search engine. The combination of the Google Search Appliance and the SAS Enterprise Intelligence Platform gives users more information than ordinary keyword searches would yield from an initial query, according to SAS.

Performance Measurement
Software vendors are providing applications that enable organizations to measure their performance in a variety of key business functions such as customer service, finance and supply chain management.

Cognos throughout 2005 and 2006 introduced performance applications that let companies analyze specific aspects of their business via ready-built reports and metrics. For example, Cognos’ Sales Analysis application is designed to give organizations a better understanding of key sales transactions. The application can create profiles to help sales reps close larger deals faster; plan, deliver, and monitor programs and campaigns to help increase market share; ensure that sales processes and policies (such as shipping and billing) allow efficient delivery to customers; and evaluate the sales organization’s performance to better streamline the cycle.

Business Objects in September launched an expanded set of enterprise performance management applications that build on the planning and budgeting products it added with the company’s acquisition of SRC Software in 2005. In addition to strategic and financial planning and operational budgeting, Business Objects EPM applications cover metrics management and scorecarding, data visualization and analytic applications.

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