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Business intelligence's (BI) new predictive analytic tools

New analytic business intelligence tools were released this year by industry giants Hyperion Solutions Corp and Microsoft. Find out more about Hyperion's predictive analytics and Microsoft's Dynamics CRM, and whether either product is right for your customers.

IT Reseller Takeaway: Both Hyperion Solutions Corp and Microsoft released products with embedded analytic tools earlier this year. Microsoft's Dynamics CRM borrowed from business intelligence tools, while Hyperion's purchase of Decisioneering Inc, gives it ownership of Decisioneering's Crystal Ball -- a tool which allows companies to assess risk when doing things like launching a new product. Learn more about both products and whether they could be helpful to your customers.
Hyperion's predictive analytics purchase demystified

In a business world filled with uncertainty and risk, wouldn't it be nice to be able to predict the future?

Hyperion Solutions Corp. hopes to get its customers a little closer to that impossible dream with its latest acquisition. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based business intelligence (BI) and corporate performance management (CPM) vendor recently agreed to acquire Denver-based Decisioneering Inc., which makes predictive analytics software that can help forecast the future -- even without historical data, according to Ivo Bauermann, director of product marketing with Hyperion.

Decisioneering's Crystal Ball software uses advanced modeling and simulation techniques that enable companies to better assess risk in uncertain situations -- such as launching a new product or starting a new project. Hyperion's existing software platform has some predictive analytics features now, Bauermann said, but those are based on current or "what is" scenario analysis and historical regression. The Crystal Ball software has more sophisticated "what if" analysis capabilities, enabling companies to set ranges of possible outcomes and assumptions, compare results, and model potential risks of business decisions.

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Microsoft adds analytics to CRM

Microsoft has beefed up its Dynamics CRM with free analytics applications that borrow from its existing business intelligence (BI) tools.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Analytics Foundation is based on Microsoft's wider BI initiative. It leverages BI capabilities from Microsoft's SQL Server, Office Business Scorecard Manager and SharePoint and will eventually incorporate PerformancePoint Server 2007 when it is made available later this year.

Capabilities include dashboards that track performance, reports, and cross-sell and up-sell opportunities that are created via predictive analytics. Business performance management functionality allows users to access real-time graphical views of key performance indicators. Business users can also conduct reporting and ad hoc analysis on Microsoft CRM data without IT involvement, according to Microsoft.

The predictive analytics piece uses Microsoft's data mining algorithms from within SQL Server Analysis Services to detect customer patterns and make recommendations. For example, sales representatives might be able to see the probability that a lead will close.

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