A good starting point is Pentaho. The company has a strong management team including Andre Boisvert, who has made stops at most of all the big names in BI.
Taking the leap into open-source BI is an undertaking not be treated lightly. For a good technical paper on the product set, in PDF form, click here.
The first BI tool was arguably the spreadsheet. And while the spreadsheet in the hands of an ever-optimistic marketer probably did more to build financial bubbles than any other financial tool, the spreadsheet still reigns as a strong BI candidate.
The big problem of spreadsheets was way too many versions floating around the corporation.
This can be resolved through having users work against a common spreadsheet accessed through the Web and carrying the necessary rights and permissions for who can see what.
Google is now in the spreadsheet business.
What made Excel (and Lotus 1-2-3) such powerful BI tools were the add-ons and programming languages that allowed you to customize and turbocharge the spreadsheets for your business.
The enterprise section of Google keeps you up to date on Google-specific products, but companies that are doing mash-ups like Zillow are really pointing the way in the use of maps and statistical data for new business intelligence applications.
Here is a link to some Microsoft Excel business intelligence tools for Microsoft.
Microsoft is trying to tie BI into its entire enterprise product line. The BI term is broad, but here is a starting point on the Microsoft site where the company talks about BIs relation to its SQL server product.
Im sure I will miss some of the other big BI vendors; these links go to some of the latest news as it relates to BI for:
- SAS. Here is the lead from a recent eWEEK article discussing a broad new range of product offerings from this long time BI provider. "Business intelligence software developer SAS announced a bevy of new products to help companies better predict and manage business fluctuations, at the BetterManagement Live conference in Las Vegas from Oct. 23 to 25." For the complete article, click here.
- Oracle. Oracle is championing its Fusion middleware software offerings as the central element of its BI strategy. For the complete article, click here.
- Cognos. Cognos 8 Business Intelligence was a major upgrade to the companys offerings. For more information, click here.
- Hyperion. In late October, the company came out with its 9.3 release of its business performance management software.
- SAP. Heres an outline of the companys position on business intelligence from the companys knowledge base.
Last spring, Bill Gates wrote a memo on moving beyond business intelligence; here is the eWEEK story on that memo.
Labs analyst Peter Coffee recently did a podcast on using business intelligence in IT. That podcast can be found here.
eWEEK magazine editor in chief Eric Lundquist can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.