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In my previous article The Content Intelligence (CI) market: to be or not to be? I debated whether or not the CI market was in a state of readiness for lift-off. When Microsoft enters a new market lift-off is pretty much assured, and the CI market is no exception. Recently Microsoft explained its Business Productivity Infrastructure Optimisation (BPIO) strategy, which incorporates the look and feel of CI. However, BPIO turns out to be a model and a methodology for how end customers should deploy IT rather than a discrete product.
BPIO incorporates Business Intelligence (Reporting & Analysis, Performance Management, and Data Warehousing), Enterprise Content Management (Search, document and records management, web content management, forms management) and Unified Communications and Collaboration (workspaces and portals, messaging, presence, and web conferencing). BI is the window for users and BI sits above enterprise content management, in a similar way to the FAST solution I highlighted in February 2007: First to the emerging Content Intelligence (CI) market: the FAST Adaptive Information Warehouse.
BI, ECM and UCC sit on Office Business Applications Services and Infrastructure Services in the BPIO ‘stack’. The latter provides a set of common technologies that include Workflow, Search and line-of-business connectivity, an extensible user interface, and support for open standards. This all sounds very impressive, but remember BPIO is a framework to help customers articulate their business needs and is not a product in its own right. It is a methodology for essentially combining Microsoft product components into an integrated whole.
Although BPIO is being rolled out globally, Australia is the main test market—there is a major marketing investment ongoing between February and May 2007 for helping 45 Microsoft partners sell into 19,000 mid-market Australian companies. Partners attend a 3-day, in-depth, instructor-led sales readiness workshop called The BPIO University to gain the necessary skills. BPIO will shortly become more visible in a similar fashion in the UK and the rest of Europe.
A more physical embodiment of CI is Microsoft’s portal product, the Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007, which was launched in early 2007 and now is generally available world-wide. “The introduction of Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server (MOSS) 2007 brings together a variety of technologies into a single integrated platform and set of enterprise services… MOSS specifically provides the portal, search, enterprise content management, business process and forms, and business intelligence pieces” says Microsoft.
Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 Search Enterprise edition costs c. $58,000 for the Server plus $170 per user. Internet facing sites pay an additional $41,000. If you buy these elements as best of breed components in the market it might cost 3 or 4 times this amount. So the commercial package is attractive, as you would expect from Microsoft.
MOSS provides a user portal access point for a collection of technologies, but does not really address the convergence of BI and ECM. CI is essentially about providing users with BI functionality for both text and data, for the analysis of unstructured and structured content. MOSS is a move in the right direction rather than a CI solution in its own right. MOSS does not offer the degree of CI focus and elegance of best-of-breed CI suppliers such as Inxight, Attunity or Clarabridge. The key message I guess is “Microsoft is active in developing CI technology” but the best is yet to come.