On August 10th, IBM formally announced their acquisition of Datacap, a provider of software that transforms documents into structured content. According to IBM, “Datacap further extends IBM's industry leading set of solutions to help companies make better decisions faster by managing content, optimizing processes and enabling compliance through ECM solutions and advanced case management. Datacap's client and partner investments in existing IBM and Datacap technologies will be preserved, allowing customers to take advantage of the broader set of capabilities without the need to replace existing systems.”
In essence, IBM has acquired another set of technologies to expand their existing customer base as well as their overall offerings. On a broad level, businesses require the ability to gain visibility into their unstructured content, which depending on the type of business may include PDFs, JPEGs, emails, video, GIS, and the like. Whether to meet compliance, or to gain deeper insights into customers and operations, companies need advanced process automation that can accomplish this task. Being able to do so within a broader perspective – for example, a current DB2 or Cognos environment – will provide added benefits to current customers. As with all acquisitions, it remains to be seen how long full integration takes (in terms of broadening the scope of the IBM applications that are already supported by Datacap) and when current IBM customers that are not also customers of Datacap will benefit from this acquisition.
In relation to business intelligence specifically, the ability to integrate and gain insights from multiple types of unstructured data has been discussed for years, and in certain situations can be accomplished. However, on a broad scope and within daily BI applications, integrating unstructured content into analytics is far from mainstream. Until unstructured data and structured data are treated equally within the parameters of BI, the full benefits of automating data integration processes and analyzing processes and events will not be seen. When looking at industry trends, it becomes interesting to note that the popularity of unstructured data analysis ebbs and flows. It is an issue within organizations, but BI solution providers have been lax in terms of developing a suite of solutions to support its analysis on a broad level. Hopefully, IBM’s announcement will push the topic back into the forefront and actually affect the way in which unstructured data is handled within the realm of BI at large.
About the Author
Lyndsay Wise is an industry analyst for business intelligence. For over seven years, she has assisted clients in business systems analysis, software selection and implementation of enterprise applications. Lyndsay is the channel expert for BI for the Mid-Market at B-eye-Network and conducts research of leading technologies, products and vendors in business intelligence, marketing performance management, master data management, and unstructured data. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. And please visit Lyndsay's blog at myblog.wiseanalytics.com.
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