RealTime IT News

New Approaches to Business Intelligence

Business intelligence

The rapid pace of business requires new approaches to business intelligence (BI).

The traditional approach -- cleansing data, gathering it in a data warehouse, then having the IT department create reports against it for business users -- is much too slow for enterprises to remain competitive.

"Big companies like airlines and consulting organizations are looking at faster cycle times to provide applications to business needs," Mark Smith, CEO and executive vice president of research at Ventana Research, told InternetNews.com.

While most enterprises bought "quite a lot" of different business intelligence technologies and "have done quite a few deployments," the capabilities are usually "too much for the bulk of the workforce," so a lot of BI technologies are beginning to take advantage of Web 2.0 functionalities such as Adobe Flash and more-intuitive capabilities available on the Internet, Smith said.

One such vendor is Actuate (NASDAQ: ACTU), which has "large-scale applications at many banks that go to hundreds of thousands, or millions, of customers," Nobby Akiha, the company's senior vice president of marketing, told InternetNews.com.

"The Internet has become a key interface and people are seeing the kinds of things you can do on Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO), Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) and eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY), and are expecting to do similar kinds of things on their banking, investment and insurance sites," Akiha said. "That will eventually go to applications delivering information inside the corporations."

Right now, Actuate is "focused on evolving our technology to stay ahead of innovations in Web 2.0 rich Internet application (RIA) capabilities like AJAX and Slash and making the information we present more interactive and dynamic," Akiha said.

Over the past three years or so, this involved working on the Business Intelligence Reporting Tool (BIRT) project, an initiative of the open source Eclipse Foundation. BIRT is an open source reporting system for Web applications.

In the second half of the year, Actuate will combine its Adobe Flash-based performance management application with more-interactive analytic and reporting capabilities based on BIRT, and integrate it better with other RIAs.

"Many of our customers "are looking to upgrade existing applications with more interactive capabilities," Akiha said.

Other open source initiatives embedding BI inside applications include JasperSoft and Pentaho, Ventana's Smith said.

Another vendor leveraging new technologies is LogiXML, which is "a broad BI platform" competing with Business Intelligence, IBI and Cognos, now part of IBM, director of marketing Bill Kotraba told InternetNews.com.

Users "can build all sorts of complex charts and BI reports and place them anywhere with a snippet of Java code," Kotraba said.

These JavaScript code snippets, or widgets , can integrate information from multiple sources such as databases, data warehouses, Web services, Google online applications and files, into "anything anywhere on the Web", Kotraba said.

LogiXML has a full-featured Web reporting system, Logi Info, that offers interactive analysis, portals and dashboards. It includes Adobe Flash dates and maps that go down to the county and state level in the United States.

In addition, Logi Info has a pop-up display feature, so when users want more information from their charts it pops up instead of their having to drill down. The firm recently unveiled Widgenie, an SaaS offering.

Next page: SaaS catches on