BI vendors broaden scope of data analysis toolsets

Business Intelligence (BI) vendors are updating their offerings to emphasize the analysis of data from a greater number of sources.

Underscoring the point, Oracle Corp. is set to introduce expanded BI capabilities at its user conference this week in New Orleans.

Analysts said that incorporating data from a variety of sources provides companies with the most complete view possible of the information critical to their success. This in turn leads to better decision support across a wider range of the enterprise.

"The world's data is not confined to one database," said Mike Schiff, vice president of BI and e-business at Current Analysis Inc. "Companies have to integrate that data from disparate sources and link it together to get the total view," Schiff added.

To that end, Oracle, the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based provider of BI, data-mining, and warehousing tools, will preview technology at OracleAppsWorld that extends the reach of its BI tools into its e-business applications suite, said one source close to Oracle who requested anonymity.

The company will preview a framework for gathering all the data collected by the various e-business applications, pumping it into a prebuilt data warehouse, analyzing it, and shipping that back across the enterprise, the source said. The source said that although Oracle has not internally decided on a final release date for the technology, availability will be relatively close to the forthcoming 9i database release, due in the first half of this year.

In addition to Oracle, three other vendors released products last week with the same goal in mind.

Through a new software development kit, Microstrategy Inc., for instance, extended the reach of its BI platform by adding support for Java and Unix. The kit is a Java-based Web API that developers can leverage to build custom applications on multiple platforms. Microstrategy said Java and Unix support were added to make the BI platform accessible to a wider range of applications and partners.

Another company, nQuire Software Inc., released Version 3.0 of its nQuire suite and introduced a new component, nQuire Delivers.

The new component enables the creation of what nQuire calls "information insurance," with which information-based problems or opportunities can be detected, and the appropriate person immediately notified via Web, wireless, or mobile devices. The new nQuire Server platform provides business analytics from data spanning transactional, operational, and analytic sources, in relational, host, and XML-based systems.

Also with an emphasis on multiple data sources, Spotfire Inc. released the third version of its Spotfire DecisionSite, which includes an information interaction layer. DecisionSite provides access to multiple information sources and the importation of large data sets, particularly ones with more than 1 million records.

The new versions are expected to help the BI market, which International Data Corp. predicts will grow from US$2 billion in 1999 to more than $6 billion in 2004.

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