User organisations searching for business intelligence (BI) developments at this week's CeBit exhibition in Hanover will find new tools that can carry out complex operations on changing business data that are more user-friendly for non-technical employees.
Analysts highlighted the importance of a new breed of tools that can perform reporting and analysis based on dynamic business data and predictive rather than merely static analysis.
The main BI suppliers have moved from selling applications as point releases to creating business intelligence platforms - a move that enables different employees to carry out different types of analysis on the same pool of business data, which is termed "roles-based analysis".
More providers are also supplying BI dashboards - tools to indicate the health of particular parts of the business using a traffic-light system, and offer executives a clear view of complex business metrics.
Alys Woodward, senior analyst at Ovum, advised users to investigate integrated platforms from the likes of Cognos, MicroStrategy, Business Objects and Hyperion, but said they should "look beyond the bells and whistles".
"You can spend millions on BI and still get absolutely nothing out of it," she added. "But on the other hand, BI at its best is excellent, and can drive competitive edge."
Integrated platforms make it easier for organisations to bring together different sources of business data, and give different employees the information they require, whether through predictive analysis or analysing data warehouse information, said Woodward.
"This is the main reason for buying all your BI tools from a single vendor. Roles-based tools and pricing means users can decide what level of detail employees need - not everyone needs full-throttle Olap [online analytical programming]."
Andrew Kellett, senior research analyst at Butler Group, said users could benefit greatly from the new tools.
"The latest BIofferings from the industry's leading players bring event-driven reporting and analysis to the forefront. With this approach, users will not be required to manually submit reports and queries as their execution will be driven by thresholds and conditional logic."
Kellett added, "Going forward, BI will be used to produce current, future and predictive information flows and these will be delivered via services that can actively be used to facilitate change and support business decision-making processes."
l At CeBit 2006, Arcplan will demonstrate a new version of DynaSight, its BI platform based on a service-oriented architecture. It features the CFO Cockpit, a dashboard program that gives chief financial officers predefined reports.