The lines that divide business intelligence (BI) and content management are blurring. BI has traditionally been the province of data warehouses, star schemas and numeric data. Content management coexisted with business intelligence in portal applications designed to provide a single point of access for a wide range of information. The problem was, and continues to be, a lack of integration between the two. The situation is understandable. Business intelligence focused on providing information on the aggregate state of an organization while content management focused on collecting and making accessible unstructured assets. Web-based applications replaced their client/server counterparts and eventually led to portals as the linchpin tying BI and content management applications together along with external sources. Now we have well-developed tools in all three areas. Names such as Business Objects, Documentum and Plumtree are as familiar in many organizations as IBM, Sybase and Oracle. The next step in the evolution of these tools is the closer integration of database, content management, business intelligence and portal technologies, and that will be the focus of this monthly column in DM Review.
The first thing to understand about incorporating unstructured content into existing BI infrastructures is that there is no single tool or technique that will meet every need. Instead, a range of applications is now available that tackle the problems of unstructured text from a variety of vantage points. Here are some of the best known, or soon to be best known, vendors and their approaches.
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