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Oracle unveils BI suite for small companies

Oracle wants to cash in on the fact that business intelligence software isn't just for large enterprises anymore.

Hoping to cash in on a wave of increased interest in spending on BI deployments will be one of the top priorities for enterprises this year. And, according to Framingham, Mass.-based analyst firm IDC, small and midsized businesses (SMBs) are more interested in BI than ever before.

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"If you're a very small mom-and-pop shop and you're dealing with just a few suppliers, you're less likely to use something packaged like this," said Dan Vesset, vice president of business analytics research at IDC. "But as soon as you get into slightly larger or medium-sized business, your needs are very much like those of a department in a large corporation or even a large company altogether."

With BI Standard Edition One, Vesset said, Oracle is hoping to compete with Microsoft, which offers SMBs a similar bundle that includes Microsoft SQL Server and some reporting and analytical tools.

BI specialty vendors are also focusing more efforts on SMBs, according to Vesset.

"Business Objects, for example, has a very strong offering for SMBs," he said. "But it's primarily focused on the reporting aspect of it, and they don't have their own database."

Features and functionality

Oracle officials said BI Standard Edition One includes interactive dashboards, formatted reporting, ad hoc query and analysis, extract transform and load (ETL) technology for building data warehouses, and a slimmed-down version of Oracle's flagship product, Oracle Database 10g.

In addition to Database 10g, the package comes with Oracle BI Publisher, Oracle BI Answers, Oracle BI Interactive Dashboards, Oracle BI Server and Oracle Warehouse Builder 10g.

Oracle BI Publisher lets organizations produce an array of documents and reports, including financial statements, invoices and labels. Oracle says the software uses "familiar" applications for layout, including Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Word.

Oracle BI Answers is an ad hoc reporting and analysis tool that lets users build reports and embed them into dashboards, according to the company.

Oracle BI Interactive Dashboards provides users with a personalized interactive Web dashboard of key trends, alerts and key performance indicators, and it includes visual aids such as gauges, charts and summary reports.

Oracle BI Server is a "unified infrastructure" that supports all of the suite's end-user tools by providing data access, integration and calculations. The software also presents users with a single, centralized view of business data, company executives said.

Oracle Warehouse Builder 10g is Oracle's ETL tool. It provides data quality, data auditing, relational and dimensional modeling, and lifecycle management of data and metadata.

"A lot of companies are really going to want to have more than just reporting and want to have deeper analytical capabilities," said Paul Rodwick, Oracle's vice president of BI product management. "In those cases, they can quickly build a data mart or data warehouse using [Oracle Warehouse Builder and] all of the components in BI Standard Edition One."

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