Business Objects lets users get personal

San Jose, Calif.- and Paris, France-based Business Objects Ltd. released the BusinessObjects InfoView business intelligence portal (BIP) last month, allowing users to have access to their company’s business intelligence information through a personalized portal in a secure environment, according to the company.

InfoView has several features that allow users to get information quickly and reliably, according to Frank Prabel, director of product marketing for Business Objects in Paris.

InfoView collects information, such as reports and desktop content, and places it in a central repository, he said. Users are then able to focus their searches, finding the information they want quickly by using features such as a keyword search.

“You could enter any keyword you are interested in such as ‘finance’, or ‘sales,'” he explained. “InfoView will automatically bring up all the reports related to that topic.”

Reports can also be classified by category, enabling users to sort their information and allowing them to create a more organized environment. InfoView is able to store and display any type of document, according to Prabel, including PowerPoint presentations, ZIP files, PDF files and Excel spreadsheets.

Security is always a concern for users and companies, Prabel said, so InfoView includes profile-based administration features, which are standard in all of the Business Objects products. These are used by the network administrators to set up access levels for individuals within the company, ensuring a level of security.

“You can go user by user or group of users by group of users, and say what information they have access to,” Prabel said.

InfoView also enables users within a company to personalize their portal interfaces, which means they will only have to view information that is relevant to them.

My InfoView, the user interface, allows users to personalize their home pages by offering them a selection of what appears on the screen – the particular content they would like to see in the frames, or a particular Web site, Prabel said.

Business Objects is trying to position InfoView not as the only portal in the enterprise, but as the business intelligence portal, according to Norwalk, Conn.-based Keith Gile, a senior industry analyst with Giga Information Group Inc.

“There are some business intelligence organizations that are delivering portals that are intended to be enterprise-wide portals – the only portal or the primary portal,” Gile said. “Business Objects is not trying to play the role of the only portal. Their emphasis at this point in time is on the integration of the BI product suite that they offer and trying to allow for a single point for any application to come in to the overall portal strategy of your enterprise. They see themselves as a component as opposed to the driver.”

This is to the company’s benefit, he said, because it is a focused position in the market. But Business Objects is late to the game, Gile pointed out, and a lot of the capabilities and features in InfoView can be found in similar products.

He added that one drawback he found was that while InfoView can store competing companies’ files, there is no tool to read them, so users must have the file’s program on their computers.

Other features in InfoView include browser-based notification for users, which lets them know when they have received new BI content in their mailbox, and discussion threads, which allow users to attach notes and memos to BI information.

InfoView is installed as a server on NT or Unix.

“On the client side, there is nothing to install really. All users need is a Web browser and a URL that points to the InfoView server,” Prabel said.

InfoView is currently in beta, and is expected to be released in the third quarter of this year. Pricing will be available then.