Actuate pins hopes on BI for all
Actuate Corp., a maker of business information software, is basing its
business on the belief that enterprise reporting applications platforms must
provide business information to users of varying skill and interest levels -- an
idea that conflicts with the traditional belief that such tools are strictly for
Actuate officials said most BI vendors offer what Giga Information Group
analyst Keith Gile calls a 7% solution, which is aimed at the percentage of the
enterprise population that is either IT professionals or power users.
Ten-year-old Actuate, based in South San Francisco, began its BI platform
development looking to reach 100% of enterprise users, said Vijay Ramakrishnan,
director of strategic communications.
Gile's analysis is based on his research that finds 25% of the enterprise
population are business users, 38% are enterprise users and 30% are ''casual''
users; Ramakrishnan said the Actuate tool is aimed at virtually all members of
each of these groups. ''Casual'' is a term of art for users such as salespeople
who might only want to check information on their customers and prospects, he
explained. It does not necessarily mean the person is casual about the data but
they are not analysts looking for industry trends.
The Actuate philosophy is that if 100% of users have access to the
information they need, it will enhance corporate productivity, Ramakrishnan
said. Observers note that IT cost-cutting measures could hurt any efforts to
significantly broaden corporate technology use.
''The macro trend behind it is getting 100% of your users in the habit and
making it a natural process for them to work with information on a day-to-day
basis,'' he said. ''That's the trend we're seeing out there in our customer base.
And the reason it's important is that by getting more people involved with the
information, it opens up a lot of possibilities for improving corporate
But, he argued, the need for information has been stymied by BI software that
wasn't easy for the casual users to learn, thus leaving them out of the
''The bottlenecks to getting more people involved and using this information
is that traditionally most technologies have been pretty disruptive in the sense
that you have to learn a new tool, querying language or a new interface,''
Actuate's latest platform is designed to allow IT departments to build custom
applications that provide information to employees in the format they are most
comfortable with, he said. That would include putting data into interactive
spreadsheets and making specific information available in reports accessed via a
With Web access, specific information can also be provided to business
partners and customers through Actuate-based applications, Ramakrishnan
Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.