In previous columns we've looked at similarities between structured and unstructured data in business intelligence (BI), and I've argued the two are not all that different. This month, I'll hold off on the architectural and design discussions and instead look at an example implementation and one of the first commercial products for BI-oriented content management.

InStranet brings one of the pillars of business intelligence, multidimensional modeling, to bear on the problem of integrating content with traditional BI applications. The basic idea behind InStranet's flagship product, InStranet V2, is that documents can be organized, managed and disseminated using a multidimensional model of meta data. The parallels with structured BI are clear. Just as we slice and dice numbers along fixed dimensions, users want to find content based upon dimensions such as customer, partner, time and product type. Similarly, administrators can use the same dimensions to control access based upon line of business, client responsibilities and authority levels. This idea of applying multidimensional modeling to content management, combined with scalable implementations built on relational database platforms such as Oracle and DB2, is opening new ways of thinking about documents, business intelligence and customer relationship management (CRM).

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