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Report finds e-biz hot, BI not

A growing number of AS/400 users are focusing their attention on e-business rather than looking to use the box for business intelligence (BI), said a recent report from the D.H. Andrews Group of Cheshire, Conn.

Almost 60% of respondents to a survey said they had no plans to implement BI on the AS/400. If they had plans to implement BI applications on the AS/400, it would be over a year down the road, said John Knapp, the senior industry analyst who authored "The AS/400's Prospects as a Business Intelligence Server."

By contrast, an earlier survey completed this past May found 77% of the respondents either already implemented e-business on the machine or will plan do so within a year.

While some may see doom and gloom in Andrews' findings for the future of BI, Knapp sees an untapped market for business partners. In fact, he predicts BI on the AS/400 will grow about 360% over the next three years. For the time being, however, e-commerce is the ticket.

BI is a broad term for a host of programs for storing and gathering data with query, analyzing, and reporting tools that help business people make better decisions. By comparison, e-business involves buying and selling goods and services or conducting other business functions over the Internet.

"Their e-business plans are very robust, but BI at this stage doesn't seem a real high priority," Knapp said.

Such is the case at WestPoint Stevens Inc., West Point, Ga., a manufacturer of home fashions such as bedding and towels. While the company is preparing to use the AS/400 for e-business, BI is not on the radar screen, said Tod Jones, a senior systems programmer. Currently, WestPoint Stevens uses the AS/400 for manufacturing, human resources and accounting. According to Jones, the momentum just isn't there within the industry to justify implementing BI applications at this time. If his company does implement BI, said Jones, it won't be for at least a few more years.

"We have made a long-term commitment to the AS/400," Jones said. "It definitely handles manufacturing and business functions well. It would be nice (using it for BI)."

The reason for the lack of enthusiasm over BI applications, said Knapp, is the limited number of applications as well as hurdles with installation since it requires components from a variety of vendors, Knapp explained. Large companies have the personnel with the expertise to implement BI, but most smaller companies don't have that luxury.

"There isn't off-the-shelf software for it," Knapp said. "But I hope the software will mature."

Another reason for the slow embrace of BI is that some companies, especially smaller ones, don't realize the benefits of the application, Knapp said. Certain industries, such as finance, have also been quicker to embrace it than others, he added.

Originally the report was meant to show AS/400 users what their peers were doing with BI, Knapp said. However, business partners may also be interested in the report since it offers some strategies for ways to bring BI to the box.

Andrews' BI report is the sixth in a series of seven reports highlighting the results of a survey of the AS/400 conducted last winter. The reports are available for purchase at

Are you using the AS/400 for business intelligence or e-commerce or both? Let us know. E-mail your comments to Assistant News Editor, Edward Hurley at

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