endeca logo 2010.jpgEndeca Latitude is a new Business Intelligence (BI) product from Endeca Technologies (news, site) aiming to provide organizations with the ability to not only find the information they’re looking for, but to also understand it -- and make intelligent daily decisions based on that.

Not all BI Technologies are Created Equal

Paul Sonderegger, Endeca’s chief strategist, says many of the traditional BI technologies are not delivering for the majority of organizations. They’re too cumbersome, not user-friendly, with traditional reports (that usually go to too many people) inspiring more questions than answers.

The challenge that Endeca Latitude is looking to solve revolves around not only finding the information, but also being able to understand it and use it.

The typical landscape of BI technology supports three basic activities: reporting, exploring and predicting.

What is Endeca Latitude All About?

There are three main principles behind Endeca Latitude:

1. No Data Left Behind

The MDEX Engine technology (you've seen it before in a SAP deal) allows users to work both with structured data and unstructured content. What the engine does is conduct search, do navigation and analytics.

Supportive of industry standards such as XQuery, XML and SOA, the MDEX Engine and Latitude don’t use a predetermined schema, every content gets its own schema. This means there are more possibilities to work with data that doesn’t conform to how you once modeled your content.

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Endeca Latitude, where the Information Transformation Layer can be used as a framework to get structured data and unstructured content into the engine, or plug in other ETL tools.

2. Ease-of-Use

While this idea above of (too) many schemas may sound a bit messy, Endeca aims to solve this with ease-of-use for end-users. The Discovery Framework, part of Endeca Latitude, is a library of components for search, guided navigation, visualizations and analytics – all to make users happy.

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Endeca Latitude dashboard and Discovery Applications

Agile Delivery

Latitude’s approach is to unify diverse data sets quickly, for the first time to see data sources together and collaborate with the business and IT to uncover true requirements of the project to foster higher adoption.

Even though Sonderegger is good at marketing the product, his comparison of a traditional BI dashboard to Endeca Latitude as a family photo and the Harry Potter movie is cute.

What Makes Endeca Latitude Different

According to Sonderegger, what makes Latitude different is the interaction, where discovery applications are constantly in motion and information is displayed using a faceted approach.

In the heart of the product is a hybrid search-analytical database, trying to catch those in the BI field with simplicity of search and power of Business Intelligence. Next step is to create applications on top of Endeca Latitude.

It’s enlightening (if not expected) that Endeca Latitude works not just with data in a data warehouse, but also with other enterprise apps and third-party data providers.

Endeca Latitude is a product to check out if BI is what you breathe every day, but find that your requests for new views of data go into the backlog. As always, it’s a good idea to cross check with other BI technologies in the field to make sure your selection will suit your needs.