BI/Suite plays catch-up to competitors

Hummingbird Communications Ltd. has upgraded its business intelligence products to match what competitors Business Objects and Cognos have had for some time, according to one industry analyst.

Teresa Wingfield, vice-president of Giga Information Group in Santa Clara, Calif., said the new capabilities of Hummingbird’s BI/Suite 5.0.1, such as ad-hoc query over the Web, bring Hummingbird’s products up to speed with what Business Objects has had for several months.

“It’s playing catch-up with Business Objects. If you look at Business Objects, they’re so far ahead in terms of market share. That’s going to be hard to overcome because [Hummingbird] is so late with this,” Wingfield said.

In fact, Version 5.0.1 still doesn’t include on-line analytical processing (OLAP), another database information processing interface that Wingfield said Business Objects has had for some time.

Peter Auditore, vice-president of U.S. marketing for Hummingbird in San Francisco, said he anticipates an announcement around mid-February that a new version of BI/Suite will be released that includes Web-enabled OLAP. He said he didn’t know yet whether the new version would be numbered 5.0.2 or 6.0.

Wingfield said BI/Suite’s one advantage over other products is better integration of the client server and Web server. But she said that factor in and of itself won’t be enough to increase Hummingbird’s low market share because of other problems with the company.

“The company has lost a lot of their marketing talent. I actually put in an inquiry for a client that was evaluating their product, and [Hummingbird] came back to me to say that they had no one technically competent enough to answer the question. They really seem to be losing a lot of ground and I don’t see this doing it for them,” Wingfield said.

On the other hand, BI/Suite user Jay Schechter, a consultant and senior systems architect with global manufacturing company Tenneco in Arlington Heights, Ill., said he is quite happy with Hummingbird’s products and services. He said Tenneco has been consolidating its data systems, including its help desk, from around the United States to one central location.

“We needed a robust way to report on a variety of issues revolving around our service-level objectives…Hummingbird allows us to set up data models and to query our databases simultaneously and produce reports on a daily basis that tell our management whether or not we’re meeting our service-level objectives.

“We think it’s an extremely flexible product. We’re very happy not only with the way the product behaves, but the output we’re getting from the product. You can get reports in their native format, you can view them on the Web through the Web client, or it can produce raw HTML reports. It also gives us some flexibility in how we distribute, down to the point where we can actually e-mail reports to various individuals within the company,” Schechter said.

He added he has run into glitches with some of BI/Suite’s output, but has always been able to get quick resolution from Hummingbird. He said he has recommended the product to others, in particular to those using the Remedy help desk software.

“[Hummingbird] provides a Remedy fast-start package…For users of Remedy to get a robust reporting tool that comes with pre-done reports for Remedy and a whole set of tools with it is a tremendous asset,” Schechter said.

Other features of BI/Suite 5.0.1 include: event-triggering exceptions for reporting and notification based on exceptions in reports such as failed sales quotas; the ability to export report data into Microsoft Excel; and client-side printing using a Java-based print engine.

The initial BI/Suite server is priced at US$20,000. Web-enabled ad-hoc querying is an additional US$10,000, and when the Web-enabled OLAP is available it will be an additional US$20,000.

Hummingbird in Toronto is at (416) 496-2200 or on-line at