According to a recent IDC study, information access applications will drive growth for the business intelligence (BI), search and discovery markets. The study finds that organizations have discovered wide gaps in their business intelligence, and increasingly require unified access to all of their information. The recent rise in demand for unified access to information has spawned the creation of new, innovative software applications that combine data and content from multiple sources.

"The content markets took off in 2005, growing at over 35 percent," said Sue Feldman, IDC's vice president for Content Technologies research. "Organizations now realize that they must have a complete and up-to-the-minute view of the state of their business. Responding to this need, search and discovery application vendors have developed new approaches that unify access to both data and content. In the process, they have begun to muscle their way into the business intelligence market. It will be interesting to see who will dominate this new unified access market."

The study reveals that business intelligence vendors will be adding content technologies such as categorization, fuzzy matching, and text analytics to their applications through acquisitions and partnerships with content vendors. The study finds that while content vendors clearly have the edge in functionality, business intelligence vendors have the greater market share. IDC predicts that this will lead to a convergence of these two markets and technologies. Meanwhile, the study indicates that database vendors have been slower to recognize that they are missing pieces needed to achieve unified access to information.

Feldman added, "Both content and business intelligence/database vendors need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their technologies and the synergy that combining them provides. Both sets of vendors also need to move from the hype to the hard facts in educating the marketplace. An educated marketplace that understands the different approaches to information access, discovery, and analysis will shorten the sales cycle and boost sales."

The study, Unified Access to Information: Content Vendors Heed the Urge to Converge, examines the demand for unified access to information across the business intelligence, search, and discovery markets. The study profiles over 30 unified access content applications vendors, provides an overview of the types of content applications that unify data and content, and examines the nature of content and meaning-based computing. The study also provides a future outlook of information access applications, and offers essential guidance for content applications, business intelligence, data warehouse vendors.

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