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Business Objects Pays to Handle Disorder

Business Objects  dipped a toe in the unstructured information realm today by agreeing to buy partner Inxight Software for an undisclosed sum.

Business Objects, the No. 1 maker of business intelligence (BI) software that helps business managers make better informed decisions about their processes, offers several products to help customers extract so-called structured information. This is computer-generated information residing in operating systems, databases and data warehouses.

But the company currently has no options for customers that want to extract and leverage the growing bulk of unstructured information, such as e-mails, images and Web content, buried in computer systems. Experts say unstructured information comprises 80 percent of all digital data.

"Business intelligence has done a fabulous job with orderly data... anything that's been orderly or very structured," Marge Breya, senior vice president and CMO for Business Objects, said on a conference call today to discuss the buy.

"What we've been missing has been the notion around the softer side of analytics, the human side. With the announcement today, we're able to now start looking at not only the quantitative side but the qualitative side of business intelligence."

That's why Business Objects targeted Inxight: The Sunnyvale, Calif., company develops text analytics, federated search and data visualization software that helps discover and unlock greater potential from unstructured information.

Inxight's software supports the analysis of trends, timelines and patterns in data that typically go undetected by structured BI platforms.

For example, Business Objects said Inxight's software analyzes customer interactions in call centers and online customer chat sessions, which are inaccessible by traditional BI systems.

Such analyses can detect customer dissatisfaction and product and pricing issues, which will lead to swifter product changes and customer communications.

Business Objects will also gain some enterprise search utilities with the buy. Inxight boasts Web services-based federated search and extraction capabilities instantly cluster and filter results from multiple search engines, including Google Search Appliance and Oracle Secure Enterprise Search.

Inxight's text analytics software monitors business e-mail to ensure that no sensitive data exits organizations, which can subject the company to federal compliance sanctions.

Buying Inxight would help the BI provider sell what it described in a statement as "full spectrum BI," or software to satisfy customers' structured and unstructured data needs. Ideally, the deal would also help Business Objects better compete with Oracle , Cognos , Microsoft  and others in the multi-billion-dollar BI market.

Inxight posted more than $25 million in sales last year thanks to customer such as AOL, Merrill Lynch and Thomson, Business Objects will gain 120 employees. Government agencies such as the Department of Defense, Defense Intelligence Agency, Department of Homeland Security also leverage Inxight's software.

Business Objects, which announced the bid at its Business Objects Insight Europe in Berlin today, expects to complete the deal in July.

The company has been more acquisitive of late in the wake of Oracle's aggressive BI moves, particularly the database giant's purchase of Hyperion Software Solutions.

Business Objects answered that challenge last month by targeting the smaller Cartesis for $300 million. A week later, the company rebranded to broaden its BI appeal.