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Secrecy blunts competitive edge

Nick Huber
Companies need to overcome their secretive culture when distributing information to employees and customers if they are to gain a competitive edge from business intelligence applications, according to industry analyst Gartner.

Gartner told delegates at its Business Intelligence Europe 2002 conference this week that, despite the economic downturn, business intelligence software should remain a staple part of a company's IT spend.

Business intelligence software, which sits on top of datawarehouses, analyses management reports and helps to shape corporate strategy.

Gartner believes the "recession-proof" business intelligence market will show flat growth this year but will pick up sometime in 2003, growing by between 10% and 15%.

"Part of the business intelligence market is recession-proof," said Frank Buypendijk, research director at Gartner. "When economic times are good, you need business intelligence to spot new business opportunities. When they are bad, you still need business intelligence and management reports [to help cut costs]."

But in order to maximise the benefits of the business intelligence software from suppliers such as Business Objects and Cognos, companies need to share management information more freely with employees, suppliers and customers, Buypendijk added.

In most cases, this will require a radical change in a company's management decision-making process, rather than its IT systems.

"Companies need to make a cultural shift - information is knowledge and knowledge is power," said Buypendijk. "In many organisations information is driven by the finance department doing its [Microsoft] Excel magic. You don't know what exactly is going on."

Industries such as the private health sector and the car leasing market are already using business intelligence applications in a more innovative way, he added.

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