Self-Service Business Intelligence Depends On Automated Data Discovery

James G. Kobielus By James Kobielus

If you tuned into my Forrester teleconference yesterday, you heard me discuss the end-to-end infrastructure necessary to fully support mashup-style self-service business intelligence (BI).

One of the key features for BI mashup is automated source-data discovery, which spares information workers from having to find new data sources or fresh updates from existing sources. Instead, the user simply relies on the BI and back-end data virtualization infrastructure to perform these critical activities as ongoing background tasks. Once new sources and feeds are discovered, transformed to a common semantic model, and published to a BI-mashup registry, all the user needs to do is drag and drop them visually into their mashed-up reports, dashboards, and other analytics.


Automated discovery is not only key to BI mashup, but to trustworthy data as well, because it helps detect and remediate anomalies across disparate data sources. Only a few vendors on the market today provide strong features for automated source discovery. One of them is Composite Software, which recently released an appliance that performs these functions. Another is Exeros, which is the closest thing to an automated-data-discovery pure-play in the market today.


Or, rather, was the closest thing, until IBM announced this morning that it is acquiring Exeros. I’ve been following Exeros for several years and have long considered them a strong candidate for acquisition by a leading BI, data warehousing (DW), data integration (DI), or data quality (DQ) vendor. On IBM’s part, this acquisition makes great sense as a complement to its InfoSphere and Optim portfolios on the data management and governance side of the house.


It will also fit nicely with IBM’s Cognos portfolio as a key enabler, potentially, for BI self-service mashup. As I stated on my teleconference, some vendors are further ahead on putting together a completely mashup-enabling end-to-end BI solution, and Cognos is among them. You can download the teleconference slides from Forrester’s website, listen to my streaming audio, and/or wait for my forthcoming report for more in-depth thoughts on this topic.


Now the ball’s in IBM’s rivals’ courts regarding whether, when, and how they plan to add automated source discovery to their BI portfolios.