SAS Institute Inc. this week unveiled what it calls the Information Evolution Model (IEM), and Information Builders Inc. said that it will detail a pact with Netegrity Inc. and take the wraps off a new version of its BI tool later this month.

IEM is a framework designed to help companies evaluate where they are in terms of information infrastructure use and how best to leverage their data.

“This is not a software product. This is a methodology, a services-based offering,” said Don Hatcher, vice-president of technology strategy at SAS.

IEM describes how well a company manages and utilizes information as a strategic corporate asset, Hatcher added. Customers that understand the IEM can use that insight to align strategy with people, process, culture, and infrastructure.

The idea, Hatcher explained, is to help customers gage their business and how best to adapt it in order to keep up with competitors.

“What IEM helps you do is make change systematic. You change because that’s what you need to do,” he said, adding that those changes span the four key areas that IEM evaluates: people, processes, culture, and infrastructure.

Gartner analysts predicted that between 2004 and 2006 enterprises will work to extract value from existing systems, redesign business processes, improve integration, enable both people and processes with knowledge, and make use of untapped functionality. This movement falls under a concept that Gartner has been calling business process fusion here at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo conference.

Hatcher said that IEM, too, falls under the business process fusion umbrella.

“Whether you call it business process fusion or something else, we certainly recognize that the whole path to getting the company aligned around a vision and having metrics that are timely is a conversation our services guys have with customers all the time. We just have not labeled it,” said Michael Branchaud, director of product marketing at Cognos Inc.

Information Builders said in an interview at the conference that by month’s end it will issue Version 5.2 of its WebFocus BI platform.

Accompanying the upgrade, Information Builders said it will announce a partnership with Netegrity, under which Information Builders will offer Netegrity’s single sign-on functionality with WebFocus.

Other new features in WebFocus 5.2 include visualization tools, an enhanced GUI, multiple drill-down capabilities that simplify navigation to reports, and expanded reporting for WebSphere and Z/OS.