Prepare for the Combination of BI and Search - InformationWeek

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Prepare for the Combination of BI and Search

Want a single interface to all information in the enterprise? That's what 83 percent of survey respondents said they want from the combination of business intelligence and search, but better access alone won't justify an investment. Customer information integration and specific revenue-enhancing goals should be a cornerstone of your plans. Here are eight steps every organization should take before jumping on the BI-search combination bandwagon.

Plenty of vendors and analysts have high hopes for the combination of business intelligence (BI) and search technology, but what are the expectations and desired benefits among end-user organizations? Is your company mature and realistic enough to take advantage of combined offerings?

To better understand what they want from the combination of BI and search, Ventana Research conducted a survey in early 2007 that asked a series of questions about existing and planned deployments of search, text analytics and BI. A total of 322 respondents qualified for and completed the survey, which was sponsored by vendors Business Objects, Cognos, Hyperion and FAST and conducted among Ventana Research community members and subscribers to media cosponsors including Intelligent Enterprise and DM Review.

This executive summary is aimed at helping companies understand what role search will play in accessing BI insights and in delivering new functionality that expands the business value of that information. Based on the results and our knowledge of the BI and search markets, we also outline eight steps every organization should take to assess and prepare for combined solutions aimed at improving access to information and gaining better insight by synthesizing structured and unstructured data.

Why Combine BI and Search?

Though BI was once the province only of technically astute business analysts, many organizations are now deploying it to less-specialized workers in functions such as sales, marketing, the contact center, the supply chain and other aspects of operations. Broad deployment, however, carries with it expectations about ease of use of technology and processes in providing the information needed to make timely decisions. These new users of BI already are accustomed to searching on the Internet and getting results rapidly by using mainstream search technologies from Google, Yahoo and others.

The ability of search engines to deliver useful results in seconds provokes business users to question why they should have to know what database or report holds the information they want and why they should have to use SQL or vendor-specific query languages, as many BI applications require. Taking note of this attitude, many BI vendors have announced they will incorporate search capabilities into their products. The combination is aimed at the need to make it easier to find existing reports in BI repositories and to simplify ad-hoc query. Within the practitioner community, innovative firms are already implementing combinations of BI and search to integrate quantitative BI data with related, qualitative content and documents (a.k.a. unstructured data) to provide a richer context for decision-making.

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