Business intelligence (BI) is getting big buzz. Publicity over the mega consolidations between pure BI vendors and larger software companies such as Hyperion and Oracle, Microsoft's soon-to-be-released PerformancePoint, open source BI offerings and advancements in the integration of structured and unstructured data have thrust BI into the spotlight.

In the midst of this buzz is a cry for "BI for the masses." The interest in BI is filtering into the small and midsized  business (SMB) segment. Business executives and managers at these companies are starting to ask what's in it for them. What they're finding is that most BI solutions and implementations are geared to large companies with the resources to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting, tools and software development, and the BI focus is on decision support and performance management for the highest levels of management in large organizational structures. Is the midmarket ready for BI? And, if so, what is the payoff for midmarket companies that enter into a BI initiative?

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