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Business Objects’s Business Performance Management Push, Redux

Business Objects must surmount several obstacles on its way to BPM prominence.

Business Objects SA got in just under the wire. Last summer, the BI giant purchased the former SRC Software Inc., a business performance management (BPM) specialist and, as it turned out, the tip of the spear in Business Objects’ nascent BPM push. Then, just days before this year’s autumnal equinox, Business Objects made still another BPM play, snapping up BPM pure-play ALG Software, and announced enhancements (including BusinessObjects XI integration) for its existing SRC solutions. Call it a tradition.

While SRC helped jumpstart Business Object’s BPM push, ALG—also known as Armstrong Laing Limited—probably won’t have quite so dramatic an effect, analysts say. That company, a provider of profitability management and activity-based costing, predictive planning, and strategic business performance measurement software, has more than 400 customers worldwide, however, including American Express, British Airways, British Telecom, Heineken, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, and the U.S. Department of Labor.

"[B]y adding ALG Software's profitability management solutions to our EPM and BI offerings, we will provide our customers with a powerful arsenal for building high impact performance management solutions," said Business Objects CEO John Schwarz, in a statement. “[W]ith this acquisition we will continue to play a leading role in shaping the market. This acquisition is another milestone in our long term corporate strategy around EPM.”

That might be the case, says James Kobielus, a principal analyst for data management with Current Analysis, but Business Objects must also surmount several obstacles on its way to BPM dominance. “Business Objects’ CPM product family still addresses a narrower range of horizontal and vertical requirements than such direct rivals as Cognos, SAS, Hyperion, SAP, and Oracle,” he points out. “Also, it has not discussed any plans to integrate ALG’s products with the XI platform, or how ALG’s activity-based costing features will coexist with those in the new SRC-based Business Objects CPM applications.”

Last week’s announcements were a good start, however, Kobielus concedes. For one thing, Business Objects is now delivering all of SRC’s planning, budgeting, and forecasting applications on top of BusinessObjects XI. That’s an important step, he points out. “Business Objects has built all of its horizontal and vertical market CPM applications on its…BusinessObjects XI platform,” he comments.

One upshot of this, Kobielus writes, is that “the new Business Objects CPM products allow users to combine data from plans, budgets, and forecasts compiled using SRC’s tools with the reporting, dashboards, scorecards, and data visualization features of the BusinessObjects XI platform.” As a BPM go-to-market strategy, he argues, Business Objects could hardly have done better: “This is the right strategy, because it ensures tight integration among diverse CPM applications and the ability to leverage the underlying reporting, query, visualization, dashboarding, scorecarding, metadata, security, scalability, performance, data integration, and other features of the vendor’s platform.”

Elsewhere, officials touted a range of new enhancements across BO’s EPM suite, including new analytic capabilities in Business Objects Dashboard Manager (including new data exploration analytics for trend and plotting analysis, and distribution analytics for deeper statistical analysis); new reports and dashboards for Business Objects Supply Chain Intelligence, as well as new modules for vendor sourcing and product delivery processes; and an integrated version of Crystal Xcelsius Viewer for its planning, budgeting, and forecasting applications. “[Business Objects] now offers more than 30 targeted applications designed for specific industries and financial functions,” Kobielus writes. “[And it] has enhanced the visualization features of its underlying XI platform so that they are now available to all BI and CPM applications running on the platform.”

What’s more, he points out, Business Objects now supports several new CPM niches—including incentive compensation management, activity-based costing for the healthcare vertical, and operational analytics for supply chain performance—which it didn’t previously support.

“Business Objects continues to expand and extend its growing CPM product portfolio. It has added to its portfolio of CPM applications for key horizontal and vertical markets, addressing incentive compensation management, activity-based costing for the healthcare vertical, and operational analytics for supply chain management. And it has built all of its horizontal and vertical market CPM applications on…BusinessObjects XI platform, which now incorporates improved visualization features,” he summarizes.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a technology writer with 20 years of experience. His writing has focused on business intelligence, data warehousing, and analytics for almost 15 years. Swoyer has an abiding interest in tech, but he’s particularly intrigued by the thorny people and process problems technology vendors never, ever want to talk about. You can contact him at [email protected].

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