The terms Business intelligence (BI) and Information Applications are often used interchangeably to refer to the broad category of technologies for consolidating, reporting and analyzing enterprise data to help enterprise users make better business decisions. BI or Information applications span the spectrum of ETL (Extract-Transform and Load) tools, the activities of decision support systems, query and reporting, online analytical processing (OLAP), statistical and predictive analysis, in-memory data manipulation and performance management tools and applications.
Business intelligence applications can be internal which include applications such as customer intelligence, expense and budgeting, HR or outside the firewall which are self-service applications designed for customers and partners or suppliers. Over the last decade, BI applications have helped organizations consolidate and analyze mission-critical information integral to an enterprise’s operations and have become the central source of truth driven by user demand.
Innovative companies recognize the limitations of the traditional enterprise BI model and made a strategic commitment to open source for the future of its product-line. Open source technology was the key to responding to three significant trends that were emerging in the BI industry due to user demands:
• More Sophisticated, Interactive Graphics for Online Information Visualization – Google, Amazon, and Yahoo were changing user expectations for what information looks like on the Web and now, with the advent of Web 2.0 and Rich Internet Applications, the expectation for that information was to be highly interactive.
• Web Design Metaphor – The process of designing web pages was creating a new standard in how to lay out and develop documents. This new community of developers needed an alternative to the traditional banded-report writers.
• Open Source – Open source was emerging as a method of developing, distributing and licensing software in order to achieve the innovation, accelerated development cycle and market-demanded feature-set created due to the participation of a community of developers.
These products add Flash visualizations into applications developed using BIRT open source reporting, improve the user’s experience viewing and interacting with BIRT web pages, supply special-purpose data access approaches, add scheduling, security, document management and finally reliability, performance and scalability features for enterprise implementations.