Web services new hope for BI

Web services new hope for BI

Business Objects is pinning its hopes for the future of business intelligence software on the success of Web services.

The French software developer was the first to enable its application to operate using Web services - the standardised set of languages for application-to-application communication - when it updated its Developer Suite in June. Isabelle Nuage, senior marketing manager for Business Objects, said Web services would enable a "second generation" of business intelligence (BI) applications, which would operate over extranets to give visibility to data warehouses and other stores of vital business data across a company's supply chain."When you look at all the trends, BI is becoming much more important these days. In these difficult times, you need to get most out of your existing implementation. All of your IT infrastructure needs to be leveraged," she said."Companies are looking at BI to solve problems like customer churn, increased supply costs, optimising marketing campaigns, and how to retain customers."Business Objects was also the first BI developer to join the Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI) project, which aims to standardise business-to-business infrastructure by providing a centralised directory of contacts for supply chain employees."Within an existing supply chain you have point-to-point contacts, and you might end up with multiple points of contact. With Web services, you go through central place: the UDDI directory. Competitors can go there to find the services they need," said Ms Nuage.One criticism leveled at Web services has been that it has not lived up to the hype, with take-up not matching the promise of ease of use - particularly compared to familiar business-to-business enabling technologies like Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). Ms Nuage said that customers were still trying to prototype Web services technology."Web services might be used to achieve the holy grail of integrated applications," she said. "Web services are technology agnostic. Whether the technology is sitting on legacy sys, Windows or Unix environments, Web services are able to bolt them together. We will be offering BI functionality to Web services, because we think employees would get value out of Web services by using BI as their interface."

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