December 14, 2006 Research Note from Dan Everett of Ventana Research.\

Results from Ventana Research's survey on service-oriented architecture (SOA) for business intelligence (BI) show most companies actively planning to implement BI services in the coming year. In particular, at least half of all organizations plan to implement front-end query and reporting services and back-end data services within the next 12 months. Respondents said they plan to integrate BI services mostly into portals and business processes. The functional business areas they have slated for early deployments are customer operations, finance and IT.

Ventana Research recently completed a primary research study of SOA for BI, sponsored by Cognos and Composite Software and media sponsors BI Review,, DM Review, Intelligent Enterprise, and Technology Evaluation Centers. From a front-end perspective, survey respondents cited query and reporting services (53 percent) most often for implementation within the next 12 months, followed by analytics and data mining (40 percent), dashboards and scorecards (37 percent) and alerting and notification (34 percent). With these priorities in mind, Ventana Research recommends companies evaluate the performance and availability of vendors' services and products. The proper choices will ensure that available functionality - for example, provisioning idle system resources to adjust to varying user loads and distributing processing across servers to increase availability - will address the issue that was the third-most often reported concern about adopting BI services: meeting service level agreements for response times.

On the back end, organizations are planning primarily to implement data services for source connectivity (51 percent), transformation and integration (47 percent), cleansing and quality (45 percent) and movement between sources (45 percent). Here, Ventana Research recommends companies evaluate support for industry standards that address their concerns about adopting BI services. For example, the Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) protocol can help companies improve visibility and operational management of broadly deployed disparate services, which was respondents' number-one concern. And the Web Services Security (WS-Security) specification can help them control access to information to comply with security mandates, which was the second-most often reported concern.

The top four areas for integration with BI services are portals (44 percent), business processes (35 percent), security services (33 percent) and transactional applications (28 percent). Here again, Ventana Research recommends companies evaluate support for industry standards that address the different types of integration work required for their BI services initiatives. For example, Java Specification Request (JSR) 168 defines a standard set of application programming interfaces (APIs) that address integration of applications with portals, and the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) can be used to define what pieces of data a particular process requires from different sources.

Departmentally, within the next 12 months organizations plan to implement BI services mostly to customer operations (43 percent), followed by finance (32 percent), IT (32 percent) and supply operations (28 percent). Ventana Research recommends IT organizations associate initial BI services projects with activities and processes that generate sales and revenue. Better alignment of marketing, sales and service operations by integrating data across customer-facing processes and channels into portals is one example - and a real need articulated in our research report "Evaluating Maturity in Contact Centers."

Our research shows that most companies plan to implement BI services in 2007. But Ventana Research believes that many companies are overly optimistic in their implementation timelines; we recommend developing a strategy and roadmap for adoption. We believe IT organizations will get more support for BI services if they have a phased approach that prioritizes projects based on being able to implement them quickly, demonstrate tangible business value and reuse services in future projects. Ventana Research recommends that IT organizations educate themselves on how technical capabilities and support for industry standards can address their adoption concerns. We also suggest seeking outside services to increase the probability of success for initial projects and to build the knowledge and skills of internal personnel.

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