While just about every business intelligence application allows users to analyze data to some degree, few allow a user to kick off a business process based on the data being viewed inside a business intelligence application.
With the release today of Oracle Business Intelligence 11g, Oracle is tightly coupling it business intelligence software with other enterprise applications via its Action Framework. According to Paul Rodwick, vice president of product management for Oracle Business Intelligence, the company has taken great pains to create a layer of metadata around Oracle Business Intelligence that allows users to integrate the application with just about any business process they choose.
The new release also supports both relational OLAP and multi-dimensional OLAP database models, sports enhanced collaboration features, new tools for visualizing data and a range of scorecard applications based on key performance indicators that are included.
Rodwick said this latter capability eliminates the need to buy separate scorecard applications that have to be integrated with a variety of databases and business intelligence applications.
Oracle, which recently scored well in a global survey of business intelligence users, has taken pains to make sure that the Oracle BI application can be easily integrated with virtually any enterprise application, Rodwick said.
With support for a wider variety of data sources and new tools to more easily visualize and share information, Oracle is positioning BI as the front end, rather than back end, of the typical business process. The idea behind the Action Framework, said Rodwick, is to use information inside the BI application as an event that the business needs to respond to by initiating a process.
On the face of it, that sounds like a naturally intuitive idea. But right now, most BI applications are being used to analyze what has already happened to create a report for further study, as opposed to being used to proactively manage the business.