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3/24/2011
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Panorama Applies Social Network To Business Intelligence

Seeking to deepen contextual BI, Panorama Software's Necto enables team sharing of analysis and also analyzes every user's connection to information.

While other Business Intelligence products have collaboration features, Panorama Software claims its new Panorama Necto product is the first truly social incarnation of BI. In Necto, your connections to the analysis and the people you collaborate with about that analysis become part of the analytic model itself.

Panorama is best known as the developer of the Online Analytic Processing (OLAP) software engine that Microsoft bought and incorporated into SQL Server. Panorama's flagship NovaView BI software is often used in conjunction with Microsoft technology. The partnership holds true for the Necto product as well, which takes advantage of Sharepoint as a collaborative platform, where available.

The core differentiator for Necto is the organization of sets of analytic reports, charts, and graphs into workspaces. Like many other BI software vendors, Panorama has supported the concept of personalized dashboards for years, but the workspaces are part of the Necto social BI user interface, where workspaces are sort of like mini-dashboards that can be shared. When you view a workspace, profile pictures of the other people who are connected to that workspace are shown across the top of the screen. You can initiate a conversation with someone about the data by dragging their icon onto the analytics screen and sending them a message, which will include a link to the item you want to share or ask a question about.

Traditionally, analytics and collaboration have been carried on as separate activities managed by separate applications, making it hard to maintain those kind of linkages, Panorama Chairman Rony Ross said in an interview. "What happens is everything gets lost."

The loss of context in BI environments may be one reason they don't get used as widely as they should be for maximum impact, she said. "The problem is there are dozens of reports out there on any topic, but you have no idea what's relevant to you."

Necto aims to change that by keeping track of what analysis you view, who you share it with, and what your connections are. The system tracks that information as metadata, allowing it to suggest "relevant workspaces" you might want to investigate -- in the same way Facebook suggests people you might know or LinkedIn suggests jobs that might interest you.

The product was officially released Wednesday.

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