Oracle has announced plans to combine specialised business technologies - previously separate applications - into a single infrastructure for business information access, writes Daniel Thomas.
The consolidation of disparate business technologies into an Oracle 9i database and application server should make it easier for companies to use business information more effectively, the company said.
However, Oracle's inference that it is the first to do this has immediately drawn fire from IBM, which targeted this market long before Oracle.
The built-in business intelligence capabilities of the 9i application server, along with the new database, enable e-businesses to make personalised business information available to anyone within the organisation using any Internet-enabled device, including mobile phones and PDAs.
Business intelligence applications have traditionally consisted of complex software that requires specialised staff to maintain and use it. A typical software intelligence package would comprise more than a dozen different software pieces that work offline, isolated from each other as well as the company's transactional systems.
With companies having to make important decisions on a daily basis, this slow-to-deliver system is no longer adequate. According to Michael Howard, vice-president of Oracle's business-to-business integration and datawarehouse division,Oracle is attempting to meet the demand with the Oracle 9i database.
Oracle's database will support the delivery of current, personalised information to large numbers of simultaneous users by combining information from datawarehouses with current data from operational systems such as Web sites, e-stores and call centres.
The system also offers the ability to view and analyse customer behaviour by combining Web traffic data with data acquired from other applications. Analysis of usage patterns could then be used to assist the customer on future visits and enhance Web site performance by indicating the most popular navigation paths.
Howard said, "Business intelligence should be available online, all the time to everyone. Making business intelligence more mainstream was the goal for the latest developments in Oracle 9i."
The company also announced that it will soon be offering pre-written software code to make it easier for businesses to use corporate data and build reports, such as quarterly sales figures, using data stored in the 9i database.
The pre-built Java software, called Oracle BI Beans, will allow companies to view reports, generate charts and graphs, and perform statistical analysis of data, the company said.