Users looking to extend BI beyond financials

In today’s IT environment, the use of centralized reporting tools is the key for obtaining “a single version of the truth.” That was the gospel as extolled by Hyperion Solutions Corp. executives at its recent Solutions 2004 user conference.

“Companies need to get out of spreadsheet hell,” said Jeffrey Rodek, chairman and chief executive officer for Hyperion, which provides business intelligence (BI) and process management software.

Speaking to a crowd of more than 2,300 end users and partners at the Lakeside Center in downtown Chicago, Rodek explained that enterprises are seeking to standardize and deploy BI and business performance management (BPM) products beyond financials into all aspects of the enterprise resource planning environment.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based vendor bolstered its scorecarding, modeling, budgeting, forecasting and reporting capabilities via the acquisition of a former rival, Santa Clara, Calif.-based BI vendor Brio Software last year.

Hyperion recently unveiled its updated BI offerings, along with new analytics software which features the ability to more easily create enterprise GUI dashboards of data. The recently released Hyperion Central 7.0 provides a “hub” for Hyperion’s BI and BPM applications, the company said.

“The hub is the secret sauce of integration,” Rodek explained, adding that it provides an integrated environment for managing and distributing personalized information from multiple reports and data sources across the enterprise.

Experts note that BI spending will prop an otherwise sluggish enterprise business software market. According to Stamford, Conn.-based research firm Gartner Dataquest, organizations spent more than US$2 billion on BI in 2003 and are forecast to spend US$2.3 billion by 2005.

Hyperion customer Coty Inc., a New York-based manufacturer and distributor of fragrances, is currently using the technology to extend reporting beyond finance. Coty’s biggest issue, according to Jim Shiah, senior vice-president and corporate controller of Coty, was that the company was overwhelmed by disparate streams of data.

The goal was to “spend less time on scorecarding and more on business drivers,” Shiah said. This included shifting enterprise resources to deal with compliance regulations and increased cost controls. Aligning BPM and online analysis with the business case was key, Shiah added.

According to Hyperion, more than half of organizations are still relying on spreadsheets for information. Nazhin Zarghamee, Hyperion’s chief marketing officer, said recent financial reporting regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) in the U.S. mean that CFOs are turning to BPM and centralized reporting to meet business requirements.

Zarghamee added that enterprises are distancing themselves from business practices “that could be construed as malfeasance in today’s environment.”

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