Business Objects banks on new BI platform

With the launch Tuesday of its Business Objects XI (BI) platform, Business Objects SA says its integration with Crystal Decisions Inc. is now complete.

Business intelligence software vendor Business Objects acquired Crystal Decisions in late 2003. Since then the San Jose-based company has made a concerted effort to integrate its BI platform and Crystal’s Crystal Reports query reporting tools. The latest release builds on last June’s launch of Business Objects Version 6.5, which features front-end integration with Crystal Decisions software.

Business Objects XI provides enterprise users with an integrated reporting, data integration, query and analysis and performance-management platform, said James Thomas, director of product marketing for Business Objects Canada in Vancouver. The platform is intended to drive wider adoption of BI within the enterprise, Thomas said, adding that XI enables users to standardize on a single platform.

New features include collaborative discussion capabilities (to allow users to share dashboards, scorecards and reports) and a central management console for IT managers. XI also features tighter integration with Microsoft Corp. applications such as Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. For example, users can read an XI report directly within a PowerPoint document; users can drill down into the data directly from the Microsoft application, Thomas said.

XI started shipping late last year for Windows systems and is slated to become available for other platforms in the first half of 2005. Pricing is based on either a user or server basis, and the price varies based on size of project and scope of functionality. Licence costs can range from US$10,000 to up over $1 million, the company said.

According to Keith Gile, senior analyst for Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., Business Objects wanted to acquire Crystal Decisions in the first place so it could add an enterprise reporting solution to its portfolio.” What Business Objects had before was a robust analytic reporting solution but lacked a solid enterprise reporting solution, Gile said.

In terms of migration path, for Business Objects Web Intelligence users and the Crystal install base, migrating to the latest release makes sense as XI provides an integrated and scalable enterprise reporting solution, and features enhancements to supporting tools such as Web Intelligence and dashboard management, Gile said. But for current Business Objects 6.5 full client users, “there’s really no reason to migrate yet.”

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