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Targeted E-mail: From Spam to Choice Part 5: Page 2

By Bruce McCracken     Feedback
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Charles Gold is vice president of marketing for business intelligence infrastructure company Appfluent Technologies, based in of Arlington, VA. "The pace of business is accelerating and in today's environment companies need to be agile. To be agile means to have access to fresh data."

The reporting needs of decision makers forces the IT infrastructure to attempt to serve two masters to the detriment of both according to Gold. "Increasingly, to get the timeliest information, companies are running reports from their production systems. It creates contention on database infrastructure that deteriorates performance of both the reporting and the production applications. As more and more people need data, more and more strain gets placed on that infrastructure."

In October 2002, Appfluent Technologies released a report, "A Study On Reporting and Business Intelligence Application Usage." The survey of 358 businesses of varying size focused on the adverse impact that business intelligence reporting had on the IT infrastructure. "The most frequent reporting problem that affects system performance is that reports are generated from the live production database putting a strain on the reporting tools as well as the production database. Only a small percentage (3-6%) indicated they never have performance problems when reporting on specific applications." The figures below detail the application categories and reported degree of performance issues and departments experiencing them the most.

Performance Issues by Application

Departments Experiencing the Most Report Performance Related Pain

Gold also reports that, "There is a major disconnect between what businesses require and what their IT departments are providing for them in terms of BI infrastructure. 85% of companies are not providing the BI infrastructure that their managers need."

With an Eye on the Future
Through integrated data merging and reporting capabilities, the enterprise will be able to strategically plan and keep an eye on the business with relatively fresh data that has been assimilated to produce a wider yet more detailed view. Conceptually, at the furthest point, the principle can be equated to the communications system at the United Nations that allows all of the delegations to hear the others in their native language.

The unification of business process technologies for strategic planning may appear to be a futuristic concept. But it is, in fact, happening, not only with larger enterprises, but also in the small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs). At the base of this emergence are the capabilities of Web-based offerings, largely through application service providers (ASPs) coupled largely with the use of eXtensible Markup Language (XML), Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and Web Services Description Language (WSDL).

Similarly to Rogaine, which was not originally developed for treating hair loss, much of the demand for this has come from outside of the normal boundaries of business intelligence. Notably in sales force automation (SFA). Some feature robust customizable reporting capabilities that can be displayed on what is known as a dashboard. Clients expressed interest in extending this reporting capability to other aspects of their enterprise. The demand resulted into the reality.

Greg Gianforte is CEO of RightNow Technologies headquartered in Bozeman, Montana, a provider of hosted customer service and support solutions. "There really aren't any obstacles that prevent an ASP from integrating with other ASPs and/or a customers' internal applications. We've already done this for numerous customers."

Essentially, the ASPs can translate applications into other languages for mutual use. The process involves data mapping to do the translation. Once the ASP has done the data mapping for given applications for one client, the data mapping can be used for other clients using the same applications with only customization for unique codes being required.

Mike Doyle, CEO of Salesnet, headquartered in Boston, a Web-based SFA provider states, "Our Web Services Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) use open standards that enable customers to more easily integrate Salesnet with their existing call center, marketing automation, enterprise resource planning (ERP), legacy systems, and other enterprise applications."

This article was originally published on March 10, 2003
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