Integration of BI and Search became a popular subject couple of years ago. No doubt, it was heavily influenced by the “Google revolution”. Search is a hugely successful application. It features simple and natural UI - free form text, yet it is extremely powerful and gives access to pretty much all of the world freely available information (i.e. on Internet). Sounds very close to the mission of the BI. So several of BI vendors tried to jump on the Search bandwagon, and integrate search-like functionality into the products. None were very successful with it – it didn’t catch up.
Having worked on BI for quite a while, and recently having worked on Search, I grew more and more skeptical that meaningful integration of BI and Search was possible. It just seemed too difficult to do anything non trivial. (and it didn’t help to remember English Query fiasco, even though its last version could talk to the SSAS cubes).
But then I saw today WolframAlpha, and I was completely awed by it. If it could do even half of the things that you see in the promotional video – it is pretty amazing. And with Stephen Wolfram genius behind it – I have no doubt it really can do all of that. It launches tomorrow, so we will have a chance to try it out for real, and in the meantime – watch this screencast video of what it promises to do: http://www.wolframalpha.com/screencast/introducingwolframalpha.html.