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The London launch of Oracle’s (news, site) 11g Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition this week is the culmination of three years work to pull together all its business intelligence tools and build on the technologies it acquired with the Siebel and Hyperion acquisitions.

From a single environment users will now be able to access data that resides in online analytical processing (OLAP) and XML data sources as well as enhanced user interaction with a new scorecard application and enhanced search capabilities.

Speaking at the launch last Wednesday, Oracle president Charles Philips said that with BI 11g the company had unified all its business intelligence tools in the same application and had placed them all on a common technology foundation so that it can fit into whatever IT environment and lay on top of existing data sources.

Oracle and Essbase

The result is that BI 11g offers enterprise unified relational OLAP, which extracts data from relational databases and gives multidimensional data views, along with multidimensional OLAP and enterprise reporting and a better user experience.

At the heart of the new release is the ability of users to access data stored in the Essbase and relational data sources from the same interface.

Essbase is an OLAP server that comes from the Hyperion acquisition and provides an environment for developing customized analytical and performance management applications enabling enterprises construct complex business cases quickly.

New Features in Bi 11g

However for business users it will be the new features that will really mark the difference between it and version 10.

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beta view of OBI EE from Centra Tech Tips

Amongst those features is the new scorecard that enables users to track metrics and key performance indicators, while there is enhanced collaboration and visualization tools that will make project management a lot easier.

Users will be able to access those features from the user interface, which will come with interactive charting, map visualization linked directly to spatial data.

Another feature that lends it to inexperienced business users is its integration with Oracle’s Secure Enterprise Search for simple report retrieval as well as the metrics around a given report.

The entire package is integrated with Enterprise Manager 11g so that it can be administered and managed for the same environment used to manage the rest of the IT stack.

Oracle and Business Intelligence

With BI 11g it seems Oracle is angling for the top spot in the BI market ahead of its long-time rival SAP with a product that it says is the only truly integrated BI offering available at the moment.

Hardly surprising given that BI was one of the few software areas that bucked both the recession and business trends by increasing global revenues over the course of the past two years.

In April, Gartner (news, site) estimated that worldwide business intelligence (BI) platform, analytic applications and performance management (PM) software revenue hit US$ 9.3 billion in 2009, a 4.2% increase from 2008 revenue of US$ 8.9 billion.

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Enterprises continued their BI projects, hoping that resulting transparency and insight would enable cost-cuts and improved productivity and agility, Gartner said.

SAP was the No. 1 vendor in combined worldwide BI, analytics and PM software revenue in 2009, accounting for 22 percent of the market followed by Oracle, SAS Institute, IBM and Microsoft.

In the area of corporate performance management (CPM), Oracle maintained its leadership with the former Hyperion portfolio. Oracle’s BI 11g will have its New York launch on July 20th.