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One-on-One with Business Objects
Franz Aman, VP Business Intelligence Platform Product Marketing

by Peter Traynor, Editor in Chief, Dashboard InsightThursday, April 24, 2008

Dashboard Insight's Peter Traynor recently spoke with Franz Aman, VP Business Intelligence Platform Product Marketing at Business Objects and discussed corporate strategy and product development at the company post-merger with SAP.

Peter Traynor: Could you please recap what your talk today was about?

Franz Aman: Steve Lucas talked about some of the rationale behind the acquisition and our vision going forward and how that’s going to help customers. There are a couple of key trends that we see in the industry that we’re trying to address with our portfolio.

One of them is that information comes in all shapes and sizes these days and more and more comes in unstructured form. Also a lot of the information these days doesn’t necessarily reside on your network; it could actually be with your supplier or business partner someplace else – outside of your firewall.

And more and more, you need to pay attention and tap into third party benchmark data or macro-economic data. You want to know how the rest of your industry is doing. You may be feeling great about the 16% growth rate you’ve just achieved and then you look at the market and it went up 23%. Well, you’ve lost share.

PT: That’s right.

FA: So we’re also helping companies providing BI-consumable information that gives them that kind of ability. So information is one big topic.

The other trend is about people. There are tons of “digital natives” coming to the workplace and they have never seen a life without the internet. A lot of these kids have been running their lives with Facebook, MySpace and so forth. Then they come into the enterprise and see the enterprise software and they wonder what is being used. So it’s really critical that we all live much more of a Web 2.0 lifestyle and not just to do the digital natives a favor but to bring something really interesting and important to the party.

For one, they collaborate naturally – a whole lot better than many of us have traditionally done. When it comes down to it, if a person makes a decision, that decision is always better when it’s made after talking to others, for getting more perspectives and really collaborating on it. So in addition to giving people all the right information for their decision making we’re also doing a lot to help that collaboration – to make it natural, make it seamless and make it much more of a Web 2.0-style experience with mashups and so forth. So that becomes an actual asset and not a burden for people in the enterprise.

The third really important trend is that more and more businesses are not just core-type enterprises; they do everything. They focus on their core competencies and so many more things get outsourced. You may look at someone who just with one product line outsources to the BMW Design Center and they get it manufactured in Taiwan and so forth. And for every product line they make different choices depending on their core competencies and where their strength is – is it in distribution and marketing or around the actual engineering, is it in design?

Companies develop these business networks where now it’s a collection of enterprises and if you’re to be responsible for all those products you still have to find a sight into what is going on. You have to know what your inventory is, where you’re at in planning for one product and manage performance across the entire business network. So that’s another important trend where business becomes very global, very distributed with different product lines but you want to still have the same grip on the business. That’s another key trend we’re responding to with our portfolios.

With SAP and Business Objects combining, there’s been a lot of consolidation in the market and sometimes it’s not even clear who went first, who copied whom and so forth. What’s different with the SAP/Business Objects combination is that every one of us was a true leader in its own space – SAP around execution and helping companies execute really, really well. We though, were focused on the information side, making sure that people have full insight and can then make better decisions and then turn them into action. Now by combining the two portfolios, you can close the gap between strategy and execution and we’re the leaders in those two spaces so it’s just a wonderful marriage.

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