Despite being in the process of acquisition by SAP, business intelligence software vendor Business Objects expects that its operations will remain a “distinct unit” within the ERP vendor, says Business Objects’ Australia/NZ managing director Rob Wells.
This has to be the case to continue as a credible vendor to non SAP or partly non-SAP clients, he says. Most of Business Objects’ customers run a variety of databases “and we will stay independent to ensure service to that market.”
However, “there may be another image of us [as biased towards SAP] that competitors will try to create,” Wells said at a meeting late last year.
Simon Dale, CTO for SAP Asia-Pacific-Japan last week confirmed that SAP and Business Objects are singing from the same song-sheet.
“Business Objects will operate as a business unit within the SAP Group and will continue to offer open, broad and integrated solutions independently for business users,” he says.
Dale acknowledges that integration of the two companies is a complex process, but it “brings together two companies with similar corporate cultures, complementary offerings and similar views on the changing market and ways to deliver the next-generation of business performance optimisation,” he says.
Gartner surveys of CIOs indicate that BI is still a “hot number one” area that IT executives will be focussing on in the year to come. “They’ve done the fundamental builds of ERP and CRM and they’re still not getting the value they thought they would,” Wells says.
Recent acquisition activity in BI, with Oracle acquiring Hyperion and IBM announcing a takeover of Cognos, he says, is evidence that the ERP and platform vendors see it the same way; that BI and the expanded evolution of BI known as Business Performance Management (or Enterprise Performance Management) is a vital piece of a complete offering.
Business Objects’ Australia/NZ office has recruited William Davey, formerly service manager with Oracle-Hyperion to build EPM strength in this part of the world. EPM ties BI together with financial tasks such as budgeting, planning and financial consolidation. The overall aim is “to help businesses make the decisions that make them, productive,” Wells says.
The mid-market EPM offering, previously known as Crystal Decisions, has been re-branded as Edge.
Business Objects Australia/NZ will continue to operate in the same way, through reseller partners and as customers develop sophisticated BI and EPM templates for their own businesses, there is a chance that these could be onsold to similar industries internationally with an appropriate payback to the originators for their intellectual property.
A number of customers have developed BI piecemeal and are using a number of different products in different departments, Wells says. A drive to rationalise this repertoire represents another opportunity to convert users from rival products to Business Objects. To win this race it is crucial to make the product easy to use — “the equivalent of the iPod or Google”.
Dale says non-SAP users will experience no lower standard of support. “SAP is committed to supporting our customers’ heterogeneous environments,” he says.
“We value Business Objects particularly for being platform-agnostic. Both SAP and Business Objects have a long tradition of supporting our customers’ right to develop the IT infrastructure that is right for their business. We will continue this tradition.”