Microsoft: Forget BI apps, the future is LOBi

Business Intelligence is "too expensive and doesn't have high traction" says Microsoft's head of platform strategy
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

User are realising that applications like business intelligence (BI), specialised workflow systems and even traditional CRM applications will not be necessary in the future as organisations tie into "people-ready" business solutions, according to Microsoft.

The company's general manager for platform strategy, Charles Fitzgerald, hit out in particular at BI applications on Friday which he said were "high-end and very expensive, and don't have high traction".

Fitzgerald, on a visit to London to promote Microsoft's latest moves in Office Business Applications, talked of a "new breed of people-ready" business solutions being rolled out this year by Microsoft. These solutions will allow "information workers to use the familiar Microsoft Office tools they know to access and interact with business applications".

According to Fitzgerald, the aim behind Microsoft's applications strategy is to "unlock the back-end " to show "the impact that individuals can have on the business". On example of this already in use, says Fitzgerald, is Microsoft CRM 3.0 which was launched last December.

It was criticised by competitors like Siebel and Salesforce.com for being based on Microsoft Outlook, but Fitzgerald maintains that this is a key part of the overall strategy. "Business applications have been "just difficult to understand and use", said Fitzgerald. "Business people know Outlook and know how to use it....The goal is to help companies amplify the impact of their people: saving time and money, increasing process compliance, and improving decision-making."

Microsoft LOBi (line-of-business interoperability) is aimed at the company's Office SharePoint Server. "LOBi is a future set of capabilities that will work together with Office client applications and Office SharePoint Server 2007, which will be out in the middle of next year." Fitzgerald said.

LOBi has been shown to some customers and, Fitzgerald, says, "we see great excitement about this". It makes it easier for people" to build even more complex applications", he said, "but anybody will be able to do it. It is all about unlocking that potential in everyone. It is very democratic."

A technical preview of LOBi for Office SharePoint Server will be available at the end of 2006. according to Microsoft.

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