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8/13/2008
01:25 PM
Fredric Paul
Fredric Paul
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Business Intelligence For SMBs Stays Hot

Conventional wisdom used to hold that business intelligence solutions were too expensive and too complex for any companies except large enterprises. Fortunately, the BI community seems intent on changing that perception: witness today's announcement of Datawatch's Monarch BI Server, aimed directly at SMBs and some new BI tools for the midmarket from SAP's Business Objects.

Conventional wisdom used to hold that business intelligence solutions were too expensive and too complex for any companies except large enterprises. Fortunately, the BI community seems intent on changing that perception: witness today's announcement of Datawatch's Monarch BI Server, aimed directly at SMBs and some new BI tools for the midmarket from SAP's Business Objects.I see a trend here. A couple weeks ago, I wrote about The "Consumerization" Of Business Intelligence after meeting with the CEO of BI vendor QlikTech. And Business Objects recently upgraded BusinessObjects Edge 3.0 and Crystal Reports Server 2008 both aimed at the midmarket.

Today's news is yet more proof that even small companies are big enough to benefit from BI. Web-based Monarch BI Server is designed to deliver "immediate and measurable business results by leveraging existing information assets and processes with no need for database connectivity or programming." The goal, according to the company, is to balance functionality and costs and offer SMBs "the benefits of BI without the significant time and resources required for traditional BI deployments." One way it's doing that is by using Excel as an output format. It may not be the fanciest, but at least everyone knows it.

Monarch BI ain't cheap, priced at $10,995 per server with a 5-concurrent-user license, but it's a lot less expensive than many other BI solutions. And the real savings come from the reduced training and support requirements.

The diabetes unit of St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Md., for example, has been a Monarch BI beta site -- even using the software to identify potentially undiagnosed cases of diabetes. The Center reports that it got the application running in a single day, and benefits from letting workers access the data from any Web browser.

As BI gets less expensive and more user friendly, it's freeing smaller organizations to find new ways to use it. It seems business intelligence is finally getting smart.

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