Business intelligence tools ‘can prevent another Enron’

9 April 2002 IT decision makers should capitalise on the current “corporate governance witch-hunt” by urging CEOs to invest in business intelligence software, according to technology analysts Gartner.

“A lot of executives are worried about what is happening in the fallout from Enron, Marconi and Allied Irish Bank,” Nigel Raynor, Gartner research director, today told the analyst group’s ongoing Symposium conference in Florence, Italy. “Nobody wants to be the next Enron.”

He added: “You [CIOs] should use the current economic climate to raise the [business intelligence] issue at the executive level.” He said that the chief financial officer could play a role in bringing together IT bosses, CEOs and chief operating officers.

Raynor, an accountant by profession, said that the European executives he had spoken to were desperately seeking ways to bring greater transparency to their businesses, so they could better see how they operate.

Only business intelligence platforms and applications, he said, would help create a so-called “glass enterprise” through which employees, shareholders and, if necessary, financial regulators could look to learn more about the true state of an organisation.

The business intelligence opportunity has not been lost on major software vendors. Software giant Microsoft and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software vendors SAP, PeopleSoft and Oracle were making big pushes into the business intelligence sector, Raynor said, a process started long before the collapse of energy giant Enron.

Raynor hinted during his presentation that Microsoft’s Great Plains subsidiary would be launching a significant new suite of business intelligence applications before the end of 2002. But he said that he could not divulge further details as he was bound by a non-disclosure agreement.

He said the emergence of ERP vendors in particular would potentially herald the demise of niche business intelligence application vendors, such as Comshare and Adaytum. There is a good reason for the interest of the ERP giants in business intelligence: in 2001, licence revenues from ERP sales shrunk by 26%, while revenues from business intelligence platforms and applications grew by about 6% and 7% respectively, according to Gartner Dataquest figures.

By the end of 2003, most ERP vendors would be offering “credible” business intelligence platforms, he said.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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