Vendors Mold Analytics with Business Processes

SAN MATEO (07/21/2000) - As the amount and variety of data that companies collect grow, so do the advantages of analyzing that data in accordance with business strategies. But analysts say the technology to conduct such analysis is still emerging.

"This is an area that most of the application companies missed during the big ERP [enterprise resource planning] wave of the 1990s, and now they are being challenged by independent companies," said Henry Morris, an analyst at International Data Corp. , in Framingham, Mass.

Morris added that several smaller companies are beginning to move in that direction, such as Epiphany Inc., Broadbase Software Inc., and HNC Software Inc.

Alphablox Corp., in Mountain View, Calif., also is headed that way. The company is aiming to bring analytics into the business-to-business space with Alphablox 3.0, its Web-based platform for e-business analytical applications. A new version of the platform ships this week.

Lawrence Bell, senior manager of the U.S. pharmaceutical information architecture team at Pfizer Inc., in New York, said his company has been using Alphablox for two years. Pfizer uses it to display analytical information to sales and marketing organizations within U.S. pharmaceutical companies.

"We have a full portal strategy we're developing for customers, and we'll use the new version to build more reports, integrate with other applications, develop information online, and distribute it," Bell said.

As more companies get into this market and existing ERP and CRM (customer relationship management) vendors integrate analytics into business processes, customers will see the need for analyzing business processes data as fundamental to their company, Morris said.

"The goal is to capture what your best people know how to do in an application and build that into a business process that is repeatable," he said. "You can bring more people up to the level of your best performers."

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