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It's been a busy week. On Tuesday Christian Smyth of ICS told me about the scandal of BI (Business Intelligence) - the likes of Cognos and Business Objects holding business to ransom when cheap BI was available from Microsoft.

In fact, it appeared, that was just to get my attention. If there is a BI scandal, it is merely that people buy more licenses than they need, in the expectation of giving BI to everyone - most of which remain unused, when BI never gets beyond a few key decision makers. But it may still pay for itself and, anyway, "BI for the massses" has been the message from Information Builders for ages.

Nevertheless, ICS does have something of interest ti say.

ICS' new product, RSinteract, "builds on the Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and 2005 backbone to deliver interactive business information across the whole enterprise". In other words, it adds self-service capabilities to Micrsoft's existing BI portfolio - its Report Builder tool is allegedly not really suitable for end-user use...

However, I suspect that the availabilty of cheap BI tools is not the whole story behind "BI for the masses". The real costs of mass BI are associated with things like cultural change (does top management feel comfortable with an empowered workforce) and training people to ask sensible questions, etc.

I wonder if the quality of mass BI, when it is first available, will remind us of the quality of newsletters and brochures when cheap desktop publishing first became ubiquitous?

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