24 October 2005 Software titan Microsoft is set to shake up the business intelligence (BI) market by introducing simple business analysis tools into the next release of its widely used Office suite.
A new product, Business Scorecard Manager, will be included in Office 12, which is scheduled to ship in the autumn of 2006. It will provide simple BI functionality, letting executives check on financial performance daily.
The market for business intelligence software – which retrieves, analyses and presents salient business data – has been expanding steadily in the last few years, as businesses struggle to achieve a meaningful view of their ever-increasing data repositories.
New license revenue for business intelligence software totalled $2.1 billion in 2004, according to Gartner analysts, and is expected to grow by 12% during 2005.
Microsoft’s introduction of Business Scorecard Manager will bring BI to the mainstream of business applications. The fact that the product is fully integrated with spreadsheet package Excel is likely to prove popular with mid-sized companies, as it is the program many employees use to manage their data already.
“Until now, BI software has been too complex, costly and disconnected from the software tools people use every day to do their jobs,” said Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division. “But the investments we’re making in Microsoft Office will make BI and the business insights gleaned from it more pervasive and lead to greater overall business success.”
Microsoft executives hope that the inclusion of some BI functionality will help drive sales of its Office 12 software.