Mention "compliance" to most people and they will tell you its all about Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) requirements involving disclosure and reporting. And they would not be wrong - but that is far from the complete story. While SOX is a significant and daunting set of new corporate requirements, it is not alone. There is also Basel II (primarily affects companies in banking industries and financial services), the U.S. Patriot Act, new reporting requirements from the stock exchanges and proposed rulings from the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), requiring companies to disclose the cost of employee stock options in their financial reporting. Even though the Senate has not acted yet on the latter (called the Stock Option Accounting Reform Act of 2003) nor has the SEC approved it, many companies have already begun to comply.

Taken all together, the new legislation - proposed or in place - is mandating the implementation of business processes, stipulating new levels of detail in reporting and holding management accountable for all of the above. In order to comply with most or all of the new reforms, businesses must be able to capture and integrate more data (more accurately), mine that data for deeper levels of information, analyze and distill and report. Hmmm ... sounds a lot like a business intelligence system.

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