Business-analytics software and data-mining techniques used by companies to target customers are being harnessed by state intelligence agencies worldwide against terrorist activities, an industry expert says. The unconventional application of technologies such as customer-relationship management (CRM), data-mining and data-warehousing is expected to enhance the traditional use of these business tools. 'I am aware that British authorities use different business-intelligence and data-analytics tools to determine possible targets of IRA [Irish Republican Army] attacks,' said Shaun Doyle, vice-president for intelligent marketing solutions at United States-based SAS Institute. Other information technology-smart government organisations involved in tracking down terrorist activities were employing the same strategy, he said. Mr Doyle declined to name other groups, which software brands they might be using, and which Asian countries had adopted the strategy to pin down terrorist groups. Governments have used traditional business-intelligence tools such as analytical CRM for years as their agencies embark on targeted information campaigns in areas such as taxes, utilities and health care. Mr Doyle said, however, that the use of business-intelligence tools in the global fight against terrorism provided an air of heightened urgency and increased awareness by some government agencies to use hi-tech advances to their advantage. 'It is all about being more efficient in extracting, managing and analysing large volumes of relevant data the same way industries like banking and manufacturing use these tools for financial reporting and credit analysis,' he said. Analytical CRM and data-warehousing are expected to play significant roles in intelligence agencies' ability to trace funds used by terrorist groups. CRM analytics helps analyse data about a firm's customers and present it to allow for better and quicker business decisions. Data-mining, a technology used to support CRM implementations, can provide business associations, sequences, classification, clustering and forecasting. Eddie Leung, director of SAS Hong Kong's professional-services division, said data-warehousing 'captures customer information and cleanses that data to correct differences and inaccuracies between data sources and data models'. He said: 'Business users then analyse the data to understand customer preferences, create customer profiles and predict customer behaviour.' The way concerned government agencies used business-intelligence tools to flesh out terrorist activities worldwide was testing the limits of these technologies, Mr Doyle said. 'Based on previous experience, enhancements derived from these new applications should be commercially available after five years,' he said. According to market research firm International Data Corp (IDC), the worldwide packaged analytics applications market was expected to grow 18.5 per cent annually from last year to US$6.2 billion in 2005. Of the three categories that make up the market - operations and production, CRM, and financial and business performance management - the operations and production category would pass US$2.3 billion in revenue by 2005, IDC said. The CRM category, while the smallest, will continue to be the fastest-growing with an annual growth rate of 27.3 per cent. Robert Blumstein, research director for IDC's CRM analytics and marketing applications programme, said: 'Analytics applications help to reduce costs by telling [chief executives] and middle management alike what they need to know so that they can market more wisely and swiftly.'