Business intelligence is unglamorous at the best of times but is decidedly essential to a business' competitive advantage.
In a briefing yesterday, Len Rust executive director of Dialog, said Gartner Group had identified business intelligence as a, "hot new industry sector."
Turning transaction data, generally from ERP systems, into information and knowledge was the key to gaining a competitive edge.
"It's all about getting smarter and outperforming the competition," Rust said.
He said business intelligence was the third generation of business information systems, after host-based query and reporting (first generation) and data warehousing (second generation).
Amid an atmosphere of rapid change and uncertainty, the business intelligence market is growing briskly, according to a new report by independent research company Ovum.
Ovum says demand for business intelligence products and services is expected to top $US50 billion worldwide within the first few years of the next millennium.
Despite the growth, there are some problems. Ovum's analysts say that many users are underestimating the importance of the, "back-end problem - getting information into the data warehouse or analytical application." The report adds, "Some vendors are still encouraging them in this attitude."
In fact, one of the "least glamorous" tasks that must be carried out - whether it involves building a data warehouse or installing an analytical application - involves the process of collecting information from operational systems to be used in the data warehouse for analysis.