Jaspersoft: Business Intelligence for the Web Worker

It used to be if you wanted business intelligence software for your company, you’d just write a check for $100,000 to Oracle, SAP or IBM, wait for the 18 cubic feet of paper documentation to arrive, then assign a few dozen programmers you had handy to the task and check back in oh say, 2 years when they had a beta ready.

That was then, this is now. Software that will let you comprehensively control your business data can be had for pennies on those old, pre-Web 2.0 dollars. Whether you’re working for a company that can’t figure out how it really makes money, or you’re the infrastructure nerd (or nerdette) at a brand spanking new online company, “enterprise business intelligence” is a new toy you can now play with.

Jaspersoft makes software for crunching, associating, storing and reporting your firm’s manifold kinds of sales, website and other data in two popular flavors: Open Source Free and Professional. A full helping of professional BI starts around $10K, not $100K, according to Jaspersoft’s CEO Brian Gentile. And if you or your CEO are comfortable with Open Source licenses, you can get into the game for zero dollars.

On June 18th Jaspersoft is officially announcing its latest Web 2.0-ized version of its Professional Business Intelligence Suite. I got a preview of it a few days ago and as someone who has written more than a few corporate information systems, I was seriously impressed. Think of it crosstabs on mega-steroids: once you’ve done the labor of defining your data sources, you can drag and drop your way to data slicing heaven.

Business Intelligence isn’t the sexist thing I’ve seen on the web, but if your startup or your department needs to get a grip on all that data about what you sell and how you sell it, BI begins to look very, very sweet.