BI, Operational Ties Tightening

New business intelligence software interoperates with operational business applications.

New developments in software are strengthening ties between business intelligence applications and business processes in operational applications.

The Eclipse Foundation will announce this week the availability of the Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools Project, a project spearheaded by Actuate Corp., while Business Objects S.A. announces its XI for Operational Business Intelligence, a new version of the companys suite designed to be used with operational business applications.

The BIRT 1.0 release, the first fruit of an initiative launched in September, includes the XML-based Eclipse Report Designer and Eclipse Report Engine, for designing and generating reports and business charts as well as APIs for integrating and extending BIRT.

BIRT 1.0 allows Eclipse developers to embed reporting technology in the open-source operational applications they develop. RPC Software, which develops ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications for the contract furniture and construction industries, is one of the early adopters of BIRT.

"It lets business users query their own information," said Jon Smith, president of RPC Software, which is based in Glen Ellyn, Ill. Smith said BIRT 1.0 is the equivalent of having Business Objects Crystal Reports technology embedded in applications and exceeds other technologies such as the open-source Jasper Reports and XSLFO (Extensible Stylesheet Language Formatting Objects), an XML-based document formatting language. The open-source model makes a lot of sense for his company as well, Smith said.

The Business Objects XI for Operational Business Intelligence release includes an application called Process Tracker thats designed to provide "inline" analytics of repeatable business processes, or analysis and reports in the context of business operations, to frontline business users, Business Objects executives in San Jose, Calif., said.

Jonathan Rothman, director of data management at Emergency Medical Associates, in Livingston, N.J., a nonprofit consortium that staffs emergency rooms in New Jersey and New York, said hes already using Business Objects technology to analyze repeatable business processes.

"[The new product] will be the difference between a report and something that alerts you when a target or threshold has been exceeded," Rothman said. "We told them we need this stuff."

Rothman cautioned that hes yet to see the new Business Objects product, which is available now.

"Right now, its a little bit of hype and a little bit of reality," he said. "The hype is look what it does; the reality is who actually does it."


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