From the time Sarbanes-Oxley legislation became law, businesses have coped with uncertainty about deadline enforcement and what it would take to meet the scope of requirements. Attendant uncertainty followed with promises of greater visibility and operational value enterprises could gain from their compliance efforts. Though compliance is a requirement, in fairness most of the "greater gain" theory was pushed by a wide variety of consultants and vendors who saw where the money was going, a total of $6.1 billion in 2005 SOX compliance spending, according to AMR Research. Then again, with better controls and visibility to processes, it's natural to assume that organizations could eventually put compliance gains to work elsewhere in the organization. The question becomes, when will this happen or is it happening already?

Analyst John Hagerty of AMR Research covers BI and has also closely followed the compliance wave of recent years. He says that while specialty vendors and consultants (e.g. OpenPages, Paisley Consulting) have been busy with documentation and controls, BI companies in particular haven't seen a significant bounce out of compliance spending because it's so far been focused on initial requirements for transparency and disclosure. Where they have benefited is in partnerships with documentation specialists for dashboards and reporting tools.

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