BI buzzes around Hummingbird

BI buzzes around Hummingbird

Most business intelligence vendors have portals now, but none have gone as far as Hummingbird.

By Paul Montgomery

Hummingbird's EIP will be the most closely watched portal product in the year 2000, not the least by the company's competitors in the business intelligence world. Why?

The whole idea of business intelligence software is being re-evaluated with the advent of knowledge management (KM) - as Ovum put it in its latest report on KM, "the business intelligence market [is] gradually overlapping into the knowledge management world".

The Hummingbird solution to this problem is the most radical yet tested by BI developers. Most of the vendors in this field have released, or are about to release, portal software: Cognos, Sterling Software, Brio and Information Builders will be joined shortly by CorVu. The only Australian BI vendor, CorVu is preparing a portal product for release in the first quarter of 2000, which it is calling a "performance management portal".

The applications which have been produced by these companies are heavily weighted towards BI's strengths in handling structured data like relational databases. Extracting data from unstructured documents, which has been the traditional strength of document management software, continues to be a problem for BI vendors. Most of the BI-flavoured portals, like Sterling Software EUREKA:Portal (see below right), make a point of enabling integration with existing document management systems.

Peter Kokinakos, marketing manager for Cognos, admitted that a convergence of the fields of BI and KM would occur in the future, but in the short term, portal products did not really provide a solution to integrating structured and unstructured data.

"Most portals are like Hollywood film sets. They are fine to look at from the front, but if you look behind, there is nothing there to back them up. It's a nice front, but it can't give me what I want," said Mr Kokinakos.

Cognos' solution to integrating text-based documents into its UpFront portal product (see below left) will be to partner with experts in the field on a case-by-case basis, depending on what each customer needs to connect to the portal.

"The structured data side is so easy to address, because it's all set out for you," said Mr Kokinakos. "When the opportunity comes, we will partner with third-party vendors for unstructured data."