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Business Objects Provides A Glimpse Of The Future Of BI

Insight conference attendees get a look at the vendor's efforts to combine business intelligence and search technologies.

The more than 4,000 attendees at Business Objects' Insight Americas 2006 customer conference this week are getting a peek at some future business intelligence -- even some that may never become products. The software vendor also unveiled a number of enhancements to its flagship BusinessObjects XI Release 2 business intelligence platform.

Business Objects is offering new search capabilities that will make it easier for users to retrieve information using key-word searches from its business intelligence tools, including Crystal reports, Web Intelligence reports, or Dashboard Manager. The system also lets users directly query databases and applications outside the business intelligence system and use the results to create new Web Intelligence reports.

The search capabilities are part of the BusinessObjects XI Release 2 Productivity Suite, a set of enhancements to the Business Objects BI system, slated for availability sometime in the first half of 2007.

Business Objects also said it is launching an "open search initiative" partner network with leading text analysis and enterprise search software vendors to further expand the range of structured and unstructured data sources that customers can access using Business Objects' BI software. Partners include Attensity, BearingPoint, Clarabridge, ClearForest, Endeca, Fast, IBM, Inxight Software, and Oracle.

Business Objects also said it has formed a team of engineers called Business Objects Labs that will work with customers and business partners to explore and develop new technologies that could be included in future releases of the vendor's products. James Thomas, senior product marketing director, says the technologies could include composite or "mashup" BI applications and BI within instant messaging collaboration. Business Objects plans to make prototypes of the new technologies available on a Web site, although Thomas says some may never become products.

In addition to search capabilities, the new BusinessObjects XI Release 2 Productivity Suite also will provide BusinessObjects Voyager, a new Ajax-based client for retrieving and viewing online analytical process data. Also included is BusinessObjects Live Office for using BI tools within Microsoft Office applications, a wizard-driven interface for designing queries and publishing them as Web services, operational BI capabilities, and updated enterprise information management products.

Business Objects executives also discussed their expanded partnership with IBM, announced last week, under which IBM will increase sales and support efforts for Business Objects products and jointly develop next-generation BI technologies.

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