A retailer, for example, could search its databases for all models of a particular brand of shoes. WebFocus presents results in a navigation tree, so users don't have to deal with the pages of results presented in typical Google format. Users can then use a number of capabilities to analyze the data, such as create a table that shows each shoe model by price.
Some of Information Builders' early customers for the technology include government crime investigators and a pharmaceutical company, but the company sees potential in the areas of retail and customer-relationship management, allowing a customer services rep to search and compare available stock, for example. WebFocus Magnify is designed to work well with Google or Lucene, an open-source search engine, and can search both packaged enterprise applications and the Web, according to Information Builders. But since the Web is made up of unstructured information, that could limit the ability to create structured reports.
Still, the Information Builders tool is just one example of how business intelligence vendors are increasingly offering tools that make company data available to more people throughout an organization. BI is considered one of biggest areas of interest in the information technology industry, and a ripe market for mergers and acquisitions.
In a market report released this week, Gartner says that organizations are increasing spending on BI, and projects revenue from BI software to grow at a compound annual rate of 9.5% through 2010.
Besides Information Builder's new tool, there's a number of additional BI developments taking place this week and next, several that involve making BI more affordable to companies of all size:
-- Business Objects, which Gartner this week ranked as the leader in its "magic quadrant" of the BI market, judged by execution and vision, plans to announced an offering next week that's suitable for the limited budgets of midsize companies. Details so far are under wraps.
-- Hyperion, also considered by Gartner to be among the BI leaders, struck a partnership to integrate its technology with that of software company Ketera, creating an on-demand offering for managing and tracking corporate spending. Last week Hyperion acquired Decisioneering, a maker of desktop predictive analytics.
-- Oco Inc., a startup that develops on-demand BI software, announced this week it's received $10 million in funding from Highfields Capital Management LP. Oco says it's growing a presence in the retail industry; Casual Male says it chose Oco over high-cost options that would've taken longer to implement.
-- Oracle announced its Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition 10G Release 3, much of its based on analytics technology from its Siebel acquisition. Gartner sees the new suite as the beginning of Oracle's big thrust into the BI market, and for the first time named Oracle a market leader in BI.
Additional leaders in the market, as named this week by Gartner, include Cognos and SAS. Vendors were judged on the competitiveness and success of their products, pricing, market execution and customer experience, among other things. SAP and Microsoft were named challengers, because of their high ability to execute but relative weakness in vision, while Information Builders straddled the line beween challengers and leaders.
Gartner reports that other large infrastructure and software vendors, including Microsoft and SAP, have increased their focus on BI, which could trigger IBM, HP, and Sun to increase their presence in the area.