The Business Objects Insight Americas 2007 conference commenced October 15th in Orlando. With over 2000 participants, the conference featured new product releases, product demonstrations, and highlighted the Business Objects focus moving forward. General attention centered around the recent SAP acquisition and how it will affect customers, the Crystal Reports 2008 release, the expansion of mid-market offerings and On-Demand BI (SaaS). This article provides a general overview of these areas to give customers and potential customers an understanding of the Business Objects focus moving forward.
Software highlights included the launch of Crystal Reports 2008 and BusinessObjects Polestar. Some new additions to Crystal Reports 2008 include report design, enhanced data access and application integration, interactive reporting via integration with Adobe Flash and Xcelsius, and more deployment options. Polestar combines search and intelligence to allow end users access their corporate data sources. By typing in keywords, end-users see relevant results that they can then explore and navigate even though no previous BI reports exist. Additionally, relevant graphs and reports are displayed to enable better decision making. Even though enterprise search is nothing new, due to the perceived lack of user friendliness of business intelligence tools and the need to access more information that may not be known to end users, vendors have embedded search within BI to enable end users to search through business intelligence information the way they would shop on the Internet.
A screen shot of Polestar results combined with comparison graph.
SAP Acquisition and implications
With continual market consolidation and the race to see which mega vendor will become the BI superpower, the business intelligence industry is slowly shifting towards the Oracles and SAPs of the world acquiring other key players and best of breed BPM offerings. This leaves the smaller and newer entrants to the market vying for their downstream positions. The recent SAP acquisition of Business Objects, which is to take full effect in Q1 of 2008, is no different. Bernard Liautaud, founder and chairman of Business Objects and John Schwarz, Business Objects CEO, assured customers that Business Objects will still operate independently come 2008. Each of them discussed the benefit of the acquisition to Business Objects customers as well as how Business Objects will maintain the same strategic focus moving forward.
Key commitments that were outlined included maintaining the current corporate strategy, products, and interoperability with a continued commitment to developing and delivering broad based BI that can be deployed across the organization. Some positive outcomes that may exist due to the recent acquisition are the extended bandwidth and the possibility to share technologies, expertise, and resources across organizations. In addition, it was announced that Business Objects will take over hundreds of SAP employees in order to leverage current SAP technologies to enhance Business Objects’ offerings, including those in memory data analysis and MDM. With many acquisitions, software offerings routinely become a part of the acquiring vendor’s stack. Hopefully, Business Objects and SAP will remain standalone and agnostic as promised. However, customers will only know once the official transfer early next year takes place.
Generally, BI vendors focus on a few key areas such as performance management, operational business intelligence, data integration, etc. Due to Business Objects’ bandwidth and former acquisitions (Inxight – unstructured data, Cartesis - BPM, ALG – Activity Based Costing, etc.) the goal of providing full spectrum BI – and thereby become a single source vendor for all of an organization’s BI needs – is suddenly possible. With a new focus on offering services along with implementation, SAP’s acquisition may help add services based support and expertise to the current stack of product offerings to fully achieve this goal.