Business Intelligence Gets a Boost

SAN MATEO (03/07/2000) - THOSE TRYING TO make sense of the vast amounts of business-relevant data available to them are offered a boost this week from several sources, including IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp.

For starters, IBM has upgraded its AS/400-related business intelligence offering by extending AS/400 support to include IBM DB2 OLAP Server and QMF (Query Management Facility) for Windows.

Big Blue also announced that one of its business partners, Silvon Software, now will make its supply chain-targeted business intelligence solution, CategoryManager, available on the AS/400 platform. CategoryManager is designed to help companies analyze and manage various product categories and brands by allowing them to view key business indicators such as sales growth, product and customer profitability, budget achievement, forecast accuracy, and market performance for both internal and competitive products.

Another of IBM's business partners, Hyperion, whose Essbase OLAP Server is at the heart of IBM's OLAP offering, has joined forces with business analysis vendor WebTrends. The two companies will work together during the next six months to integrate Hyperion's OLAP engine with WebTrends' e-business intelligence solutions and Web data-warehousing technology. The result will be a single product that company officials believe will enhance greatly the customer knowledge that companies can glean from Web data.

"E-businesses are starting to get held accountable for showing business results beyond simply counting clicks, and what Hyperion saw in meeting with WebTrends is that it's clear we share the same vision that customers can't do e-business without analysis," said Dan Druker, vice president and general manager of the Hyperion e-Business Division. "That analysis is so important because you are collecting all this information, and the value is in leveraging that information to provide answers to business questions."

Considering those factors along with the core competencies of each company, the decision to work together was an easy one for WebTrends and Hyperion to make, said Coleen Carey, product line manager for e-business intelligence solutions at WebTrends.

"The idea is that we are going to offer customers unparalleled opportunities for analytics in understanding Web visitor behavior, and also merge and correlate that capability with critical corporate databases," Carey said.

Microsoft is also in on the act this week, announcing the beta release of the OLE DB for Data Mining specification it has been working on since last May. The specification, which already has been endorsed by a dozen software vendors, would provide an open interface for simplifying the integration of data-mining tools and capabilities into line-of-business and e-commerce applications.

In addition to the data-mining news, Microsoft partner GoldMine Software has announced that it will now embed the SQL Server database as the standard offering in its CRM (customer relationship management) offering, GoldMine FrontOffice 2000.

IBM Corp., in Armonk, N.Y., is at http://www.ibm.com. Hyperion Solutions Corp., in Sunnyvale, Calif., is at http://www.hyperion.com. Microsoft Corp., in Redmond, Wash., is at http://www.microsoft.com. WebTrends Corp., in Portland, Ore., is at http://www.webtrends.com.

Michael Lattig is an InfoWorld senior writer.

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