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How Smart Is Business Intelligence?

As we do sometimes here at RCPU, we're going to throw a topic completely open to you, the faithful reader. In other words, we'll give you a bit of news and just let you run with it in e-mail form or as commentary on the blog. (Yes, this means that we're going to mainly keep our mouths shut on this issue -- for now.)

We did this last summer with Windows Genuine Advantage and got tremendous feedback. So here we go again. This week, it's time to Get Smart, as the topic is business intelligence (clever, huh?).

Here are your bits of news: Microsoft and SAP both made small BI acquisitions this week, with Redmond buying a Java reporting tool called OfficeWriter and SAP snapping up OutlookSoft, which makes applications for budgeting and financial forecasts. Incidentally, we're pleased to see that both giants bought companies that use SmashedTogether words with a capital letter in the middle as their names. We ReallyLike CompanyNames like that. WellDone, Microsoft and SAP.

And lest we forget, last month, BI player Business Objects (two separate words) announced that it would buy OutlookSoft competitor Cartesis (and its somewhat disappointing one-word name).

These smaller acquisitions come in the wake of a really big one, Oracle's multibillion buyout of Hyperion. Obviously the big guys in BI -- Cognos also comes to mind in that category along with the aforementioned players -- are snapping up smaller vendors in a pretty textbook case of market consolidation. And, obviously, somebody thinks that there's money and opportunity in bringing corporate information to the desktops of nontechnical people, especially executives, in a clean and simple way -- which is what BI is supposed to do.

Microsoft is, not surprisingly, becoming a very serious BI player, although reviews of Redmond's effort in the area are a bit mixed thus far. Check out RCP magazine columnist Joshua Greenbaum's comprehensive take here.

What I want to know, though, is what BI is doing for you. If you're selling it (especially from Microsoft), how's it going? How's demand? Do customers understand the benefits of BI, and are you profiting from selling and deploying it? If you're using it (as we have a lot of nonpartner IT folks who read the newsletter), is it delivering everything you expected? Do you consider it a critical part of your enterprise technology strategy?

Send me your thoughts at lpender@rcpmag.com. We'll take the best of your e-mails this week and the next and run them a week from Friday (on May 18). And thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Posted by Lee Pender on May 10, 2007 at 11:54 AM


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