Business intelligence for the masses

By making a complex function affordable, that function becomes universal. As it becomes universal, it also becomes easier to abuse, much like PowerPoint is abused.

One reason why business intelligence (BI) remains a "cult" is the cost.

The use of such tools to pull custom reports out of corporate databases is seldom taught in business schools because the tools are expensive, and the schools can't be certain they're affordable where the graduates next travel.

JasperSoft is aiming to change that. The company finished-off its product line today at LinuxWorld by introducing JasperSoft JasperServer Professional. Before the announcement I was able to chat with CTO Barry Klawans and vice president for marketing Nick Halsey about it.

The new product is offered as "a commercial license with visible source, a per-server license, with "some additional end user capabilities, like ad hoc reporting, ad hoc querying, and drill-through charts" to make it easier to use.

This is going to change the nature of the market, said Halsey. "We're going to be seeing a trend, instead of BI as an application on a data warehouse, with professional analysts, that BI becomes embedded in individual applications. A user won't even know they're doing BI, they'll think they're just doing a report."

This isn't just hype. "We've had over 1 million downloads of various products – 100,000 last month alone," said Klawans. "The company now has over 4,000 commercial customers. It's a $15 billion market total, which is dominated by the proprietary players. But our growth is a doubling every quarter."

The JasperSoft story represents one of the hidden benefits of open source. By making a complex function affordable, that function becomes universal.

As it becomes universal, however, it also becomes easier to abuse, much like PowerPoint is abused.

That's why I suggested JasperSoft approach some business schools, because there are three kinds of lies, one of them being statistics. Hopefully the open source movement will follow up before this revolution becomes, like so many others, the subject of a Dilbert cartoon.

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