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Business Intelligence with Smarts

Unfortunately, Business Objects "doesn't do reviews," and though we tried hard to persuade SAS to participate, the vendor said it didn't want to pit its current version against the other products. SAP asked us to include it at the 11th hour, then bowed out without citing a reason.

So we gathered the remaining players and put them to work analyzing our vast store of market data (see "How We Tested Business-Intelligence Solutions"). We used each product to poke and prod our subscriber data, and we discovered that you, our readers, work for companies that spend money on products we evaluate, and that you don't drink enough caffeinated beverages.

Vendors at a Glance
Click here to enlarge

Getting To Know You

Actually, we're kidding about the caffeine. The data we analyzed was from CMP Media's CRM system, but the folks at our corporate offices removed large chunks of information before we saw it, to protect you and your company's privacy. We never saw your names, e-mail addresses or phone numbers, and we certainly don't have a clue about what you drink. Rather, Corporate sent us a lot of interesting data that made little sense to most of us until we ran the business-intelligence software.

We evaluated the products based on their methods of report distribution, formats of the analysis presented, data security and mundane configuration and management issues. We also challenged the products to answer two specific questions: one that pertained to interest in Internet and intranet products based on company size and infrastructure spending, and a second that tried to correlate the subscriber's title, industry and IT budget. All five business-intelligence applications provided the same basic results, but their report-development methods and presentation interfaces differ greatly.

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