Panel: Business intelligence apps save money, time

Business intelligence applications accessed via the Internet offer corporations more opportunities to use technology at a strategic level and move beyond traditional ways of doing business, according to an analyst roundtable on business intelligence trends at the Information Builders User Conference.

Sending reports electronically rather than by paper has enabled some companies to cut costs, according to Howard Dresner, research director at Gartner Group Inc. in Stamford, Conn. Dresner was joined in yesterday’s discussion by Henry Morris, a vice-president at IDC in Framingham, Mass., and Mark Smith, president of Full Circle Strategies in Truckee, Calif. Lou Bertin, president of Bertin & Co., moderated the panel.

As more people become familiar with the Web, business intelligence software accessed via a corporate Intranet allows more data to be put in the hands of employees or teams of workers who make decisions, said Morris.

“Extending the e-business process should make a difference in our purchasing and procurement,” he said. Companies that are analyzing customer behavior on their Web sites could use that data to influence buying decisions, he said.

Morris presented data from a 2001 IDC survey that revealed that 20 per cent of organizations with 500 or more employees are linking their business intelligence applications to their corporate Web sites.

Bertin asked panelists what obstacles still remain for users, despite recent technological advances. “Reporting seems simple, yet the types of things you have to do to transform data … is difficult because of people not wanting to share information,” he said.

Morris said, however, that “ultimately competitive pressures will trump organizational problems,” as companies using information gathered on their Web sites could improve the bottom line. As more companies seek to automate business processes to improve their bottom lines, using business intelligence will become routine for more employees, said Smith.