Business Objects intros BI, integration wares

Business Objects SA unveiled a slew of new products this month, including two new reporting tools and several tools to inject enterprise information management into its business intelligence product line.

Crystal Vision is a new tool designed to allow enterprise users to create reports and turn them into interactive dashboards on the desktop; Crystal Vision Server, which is designed for the mid-market, will allow users to design reports and dashboards that can then be shared live over the Web. The server allows reports and dashboards to maintain real-time connectivity to data so they can be refreshed anytime.

Both new tools also include Crystal Live Office, which offers access to live data from within any Microsoft Office application, according to officials from Business Objects in San Jose, Calif.

With Crystal Vision, users can “take their reports up a level and transform them into an interactive ‘what-if’ model or business dashboard to plan for the future and analyze data within the organization,” said Jaylene Crick, group product marketing manager at Business Objects.

The company also announced several tools focused on enterprise information management that are designed to ensure the information being analyzed is accurate and current.

“The barriers to business intelligence and performance management success are typically due to poor data quality or disparate data across the enterprise,” said Philip On, product marketing manager at Business Objects. “Organizations are struggling to really trust their numbers and to know which data source they came from.”

The new Business Objects Data Federator is designed to give users a virtual real-time view of data from disparate sources. Instead of moving data into a data warehouse before users can query it, the new tool sends a query out to multiple data sources and brings the information back to the user, On said.

The tool likely will be used by companies looking to provide access to data more quickly than the typical overnight updates to a data warehouse, or by companies seeking to integrate data from systems added through acquisition.

In addition, the company unveiled Business Objects Metadata Manager, a new product that collects BI, ETL, relational database and third-party metadata to give administrators complete visibility into all metadata.

This allows them to view, analyze and explore metadata relationships to understand the impact of source data changes and to access data lineage for compliance reporting and internal controls.

Joel Martin, vice-president, enterprise software with research firm IDC Canada in Toronto, said the new releases are an interesting play for Business Objects. It needs to catch up with where the market leaders, Cognos and SAS, are going with their predictive analytics products.

At the same time, he said Business Objects needs to expand its product line to compete with what IBM, SAP and Oracle are doing in order to leverage the way the company’s applications, databases and data management software can interact to provide business analysis on the fly.

“You have to go that way if you’re going to continue to be competitive in the business analytics marketplace,” said Martin, adding that by remaining a pureplay BI and data mining developer, the company’s traditional market would be eaten away by new competition from Microsoft and Oracle. “It’s the right step for Business Objects, they’ve got to go there.”

In Canada, Martin said he’s put Business Objects among the top five BI players in the market. But he added that Cognos and SAS have really broken away from the pack in recent years, so Business Objects has got a tough road to hoe.

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