Jaspersoft: Business Intelligence for the Web Worker


It used to be if you wanted business intelligence software for your company, you’d just write a check for $100,000 to Oracle, SAP or IBM, wait for the 18 cubic feet of paper documentation to arrive, then assign a few dozen programmers you had handy to the task and check back in oh say, 2 years when they had a beta ready.

That was then, this is now. Software that will let you comprehensively control your business data can be had for pennies on those old, pre-Web 2.0 dollars. Whether you’re working for a company that can’t figure out how it really makes money, or you’re the infrastructure nerd (or nerdette) at a brand spanking new online company, “enterprise business intelligence” is a new toy you can now play with.

Jaspersoft makes software for crunching, associating, storing and reporting your firm’s manifold kinds of sales, website and other data in two popular flavors: Open Source Free and Professional. A full helping of professional BI starts around $10K, not $100K, according to Jaspersoft’s CEO Brian Gentile. And if you or your CEO are comfortable with Open Source licenses, you can get into the game for zero dollars.

On June 18th Jaspersoft is officially announcing its latest Web 2.0-ized version of its Professional Business Intelligence Suite. I got a preview of it a few days ago and as someone who has written more than a few corporate information systems, I was seriously impressed. Think of it crosstabs on mega-steroids: once you’ve done the labor of defining your data sources, you can drag and drop your way to data slicing heaven.

Business Intelligence isn’t the sexist thing I’ve seen on the web, but if your startup or your department needs to get a grip on all that data about what you sell and how you sell it, BI begins to look very, very sweet.


Visualization Reporter

I also work for a BI Firm, InetSoft, and I can tell you that our licensing options are very flexible and affordable to the point where virtually anyone an organization can have unlimited access to dashboards at a reasonable cost. Additionally, our BI Platform is centered around a self-service/personal customization philosophy that enable the average business user to arrange data in the way that makes the most sense.

Ajay Nair

Dislosure: I work for Synaptris

BI solutions are deployed widely today and organizations are reaping rich dividends from their investment in BI. It is however a widely acknowledged fact that the usage of BI even in the most progressive of organizations is restricted to 20% of the information consumers.

The reason for the limited deployment and usage is primarily due to the cost and complexity associated with BI solutions. While the business analysts and the senior management teams are consulted in designing the analysis models in BI solutions, it is not operationally or financially practical to expand the consulting exercise to cover the majority of information consumers. The resultant data store with the pre-defined business logic therefore has embedded answers only to the questions that the 20% of information consumers such as business analysts and senior management are expected to ask of the data using the BI tools.

At this time, organizations are looking to address the limitations of traditional reporting solutions using BI solutions. While the BI solution addresses the primary limitation of traditional reporting and provides unparalleled flexibility to the user in terms of manipulating data, it imposes significant barriers that make it an unviable proposition.

BI solutions introduce a significant level of usage complexity. Organizations that have tried to deploy BI to Information Consumers who use only traditional reporting today have discovered that users even after extensive training do not want to invest the extra effort it takes to get to information using BI tools.

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