The financial results of publicly-quoted companies can help us gauge the economy and behaviour of buyers so it might be significant that UK business software bellwether Autonomy appears to be flying high, despite turbulent skies.

Strong performance at supermarkets, low-cost retailers and web-based sellers suggest that we might not be buying less stuff but the places where we buy our stuff are changing. And strong performance at Autonomy suggests that businesses might take their foot of the accelerator when it comes to innovation but not governance, risk and compliance.

Autonomy broke its revenues and profits records for fiscal 2008, ending up with a $185.7m profit on sales of $503.2m (£362.5m). More happy news could be on its way despite the depressing nature of the economy as firms seek to understand patterns in their business dealings and address waves of regulations.

Autonomy CEO was quoted as saying that the red tape "has been a positive for us; as soon as there is litigation and regulation, it drives our sales". And Barack Obama might help. In inauguration speech the 44th US president alarmed stock watchers by saying:

"This crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favours only the prosperous."

That hint that more regulation could be coming will appall many free marketers but delight the likes of Autonomy.

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