Organizations with mature BI infrastructures constantly look for ways to increase the efficiency of their current applications and to integrate business intelligence into their overall business processes. One way this can be achieved is through the integration of BI with other applications such as accounting, HR, ERP, and CRM. As BI becomes integrated within these applications, the potential for additional data capture becomes apparent. With ERP related processes and manufacturing, organizations can identify parts defects and the reasons why. Within CRM, customer service notes can be captured to help measure customer sentiments. Both of these examples highlight the use of unstructured data to enhance the ability of business intelligence to help organizations with their analysis of their business, including how customers, competitors, and suppliers view their organization. One clear example of how business intelligence has moved to the next level by merging these two technologies is through the Business Objects acquisition of Inxight.
The recent Business Objects acquisition of Inxight highlights the fact that the BI industry is moving towards the convergence of BI and unstructured data analysis. Recent studies (i.e. from TDWI) state that unstructured data accounts for about 85% of organizational information and that within the next couple of years organizations will expand towards analyzing larger amounts of unstructured information from both internal and external sources. A new level of importance has been placed on the analysis of external information to identify factors that can be tied to an increase in an organization’s profit margins by analyzing market trends and consumer behavior. The importance of linking both structured and unstructured data is becoming more of an emphasis when discussing how organizations can increase their competitive advantage through the use of business intelligence.
The linking of BI, text and search
On September 25th Business Objects announced its new product offerings combining the use of business intelligence and unstructured data by merging BI and best of breed text based functionality with the launch of BusinessObjects Text Analysis and BusinessObjects Intelligent Search. Both products can help organizations change the way they utilize their BI tools by enabling them to access a wider variety of information both internally and externally (i.e. Internet, blogs, online catalogs, etc). Additionally, by adding text based functionality to BI, organizations are able to access more information that can lead to better decision making.
The Business Objects/Inxight products offer the following:
- BusinessObjects Text Analysis enables the processing and structuring of text within the existing Business Objects environment. Organizations can use their current BI environment and add text based analysis by pulling data from CRM notes fields, documents, or Websites. This text-based information can be used in reports, stored within the data warehousing environment or used within other BI processes.
- BusinessObjects Intelligent Search is a federated search product that gathers multiple sources together to identify pertinent information about data and ordered to identify aspects such as who, what, when, and where. Text strings are entered to discover pertinent information that resides both internally and externally without having to define which databases or Websites to target.
Enabling text analysis and search capabilities within current BI applications allows organizations to expand their current use of business intelligence to move beyond general reporting and OLAP towards a BI solution that matches their actual business needs. With the addition of text analysis, organizations are able to access the additional estimated 85% of untapped information, giving them a potential advantage over other organizations.
The merging of structured and unstructured analysis
The convergence of text analysis and business intelligence marks the next generation of business intelligence. As vendors add functionality based on information expansion and collaboration, organizations’ BI environments are maturing to enable them to take advantage of key technologies. This includes the ability to expand beyond financial and sales based information towards a more complete view of, not only the organization but, an organization’s opportunities and competition.
Business Objects, with its acquisition of Inxight, is one step closer to its goal of offering “full spectrum BI” to end users. BusinessObjects Text Analysis not only adds unstructured data capabilities within the Business Objects reporting environment, but is now embedded within the Business Objects EIM (Enterprise Information Management) platform. This means that organizations using BusinessObjects Text Analysis can integrate text analysis capabilities within their business intelligence application to get the best of both worlds – advanced analysis that ties textual, search based, and external information to one another within a structured database environment. Additionally, organizations are now able to integrate text analysis within their BI applications to develop analyses that take into account soft factors as well as traditional structured data.