Business intelligence software vendor Cognos has agreed to buy real-time dashboard maker Celequest, to entice mid-market and departmental customers.

Dashboards give a quick view of corporate data, and let users assess individual and overall performance easily. Cognos, along with rivals MicroStrategy and Business Objects are looking for ways to make BI software easier to use and accessible to more of an organisation's staff.

Running on dedicated hardware or as a hosted service, Celequest's Lava dashboards are designed to constantly monitor performance against a set of real-time data. They can flag performance issues, drill down to the likely causes and implement measures to resolve the problems. Celequest also aims to make it simple for individuals to create and customise their own real-time dashboards. The company's Lava offerings include data integration, analytics and collaboration tools as well as the dashboards.

The real-time Celequest dashboards will complement the historical and strategic dashboards Cognos already offers inside its Cognos 8 BI software, the vendor said. Built using a Web-based, SOA (service-oriented architecture), Celequest's Lava dashboards already interoperate with Cognos 8 BI and will pave the way for future integration of the two technologies.

Celequest already provides two third-party specific Lava products - one to access and display views of data held in SAP's Business Information Warehouse and the other to access and generate dashboards based on information contained in Salesforce.com's on-demand CRM (customer relationship management) software.

Celequest was founded in 2002 and is based in Redwood City, California. The company's customers include Citgroup.