Microsoft Corp. on Monday detailed its plan to beef up, align and broaden its investments in the business intelligence space, using the Microsoft Office System to help customers better leverage their existing applications.
The Redmond, Wash.-based company also announced that its Microsoft Office Business Scorecard Manager 2005 product would be available in November.
This is a new, server-based business scorecarding application that takes advantage of the Office System and extends the SQL Server platform to help enterprises deploy personalized scorecards to employees so they can track key performance indicators against goals.
Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division, also announced pricing for the product, with the server coming in at $5,000 and the CAL (client access license) costing $175 per user.
"This is just a fraction of the cost of comparable solutions," he said during a Web conference with media and analysts.
The way people worked was changing, Raikes said, adding that there were many trends around this, especially the need for people to work across organizational boundaries, the expectation of richer capabilities from users, far more transparency in how IP was managed and meeting government regulations and requirements.
"People are always on and always connected and this is most relevant to what we are discussing today around business intelligence," said Raikes.
"This creates new challenges like people feeling they are simultaneously suffering from information overload and information underload, where they cant access the information they really need, and that is what we believe we have to address," he added.
Business intelligence was not as pervasive inside organizations as it could be, Raikes said, only reaching some 20 percent of those users who could benefit from it.
"The reasons for this are that users see BI as inconvenient, expensive and hard to use," said Raikes. "But we at Microsoft see that as an opportunity and we want to transform what BI means to a company and to make it as pervasive as e-mail."
Microsoft had spent as much as hundreds of millions of dollars on research and product development for its business intelligence business, Raikes said, adding that nearly 500 million people currently used its Office System tools.
But Microsoft was also now extending business intelligence beyond the platform to user tools and BI applications for better business performance, he said, as customers want to be able to have business intelligence reach more people by delivering it through Microsoft Office.
That would provide a simple user experience for accessing and working with business information by putting them into the context of the familiar tools they have today, Raikes said.
Microsoft had also been broadening the BI footprint by bringing it into the tools where collaboration and business processes currently existed.
The performance management technologies would be provided through the Business Scorecard product, with the end user tools coming on the portal and collaboration side through SharePoint 12 technologies.
End-user analysis comes through Excel 12, and integration, analysis, reporting and data warehousing coming from SQL Server 2005, he said.
Raikes also confirmed that Office 12 would be in beta before the end of this year, with the product available in the second half of 2006.