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.

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