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3/14/2007
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Vendors Introduce 'Affordable' Business-Intelligence Systems

Business Objects, IBM, and others are putting together packages designed to take the bite out of costly BI. Cost and integration are a big problem for businesses, according to new InformationWeek research.

Companies often cite business-intelligence software as a priority in the coming year, yet many continue to grapple with the cost and complexity involved in deploying the technology. BI vendors this week unleashed a number of offerings they claim will solve some of these challenges.

Business Objects on Wednesday announced that it's partnering with eight vendors, including Teradata, IBM, Netezza, and VMware, to offer business-intelligence "appliances." In most cases these are integrated packages that include Business Objects tools for such things as analysis and reporting and its partners' data warehouses, and may include hardware. These pre-configured appliances will reduce installation, configuration, and deployment time for BI, according to Business Objects.

Similarily, IBM on Tuesday introduced IBM Balanced Warehouse, which includes pre-configured software, hardware, and storage, and also is designed for faster implmenetation. IBM will offer three classes of these data warehouses to reach large enterprises down to small- and medium-sized businesses. The entry level C-Class is an "out-of-the-box" system that comes bundled with Business Object's reporting tools, says IBM.

Out-of-the-box BI? That's an oxymoron for most businesses. New InformationWeek research on business intelligence, to be released March 17, finds that ease-of-use issues stand in the way of widespread BI adoption, forcing companies to undertake time-consuming and expensive training, which nearly 40% of 500 IT professionals surveyed cite as a major obstacle. Two out of five respondents cite initial investment in BI as a challenge, and ongoing costs are impacting nearly a third of those trying to deploy BI tools. Nearly half of respondents say they have difficulty showing a clear return on investment.

Despite these vendors' efforts, it's hard to imagine BI technology could ever be considered a simple, drop-in system that can help companies better understand their businesses. Business Objects partnered with Andrews, Brightlight, Hewlett-Packard, and others to provide consulting services to help businesses put together their ideal BI appliances, showing that considerable work may still be required to get the right kinds of information to the right people.

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