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Fast Is Building A Better BI Trap

Norwegian search firm goes after business intelligence market

Is Fast faster than familiar business intelligence technology?

Fast Search & Transfer, a Norwegian company known for its enterprise search technology, is substituting a smart search system for the structured queries and data warehouses required by conventional business intelligence systems. On Jan. 29 in London, Fast will launch its Adaptive Information Warehouse. User access is through a Web portal, and the system can drill down through the data it finds, analyze it, and present results in a user dashboard like a BI system, says a company spokesman.

Business intelligence generally relies on well-scrubbed, historical data loaded into data warehouses. Search functions more loosely and finds information more easily than BI, tapping a wider variety of sources. Fast's $8 million purchase of Corporate Radar last April gave it a personalized, browser-based, BI system on which to base its warehouse. The latest version of Fast's Enterprise Search Platform is considered a leader in the field, along with Autonomy, by Forrester Research.

Fast whiffed on its first search opportunity. In 2002, The Wall Street Journal reported that Fast's Internet search engine, AlltheWeb, had momentarily passed Google's in the number of Web pages it had indexed. But AlltheWeb was acquired by Overture in 2003, which was acquired by Yahoo in 2004.

There's no question who won the Web search race. Now Fast is ready to try again, with a BI approach.

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