Following the acquisition of Cartesis in April and the outline of an integration road map when the deal closed in June, Business Objects has for the most part assimilated Cartesis enterprise performance management software into its product portfolio.
The result, announced Sept. 12 in a Webcast that had at least one surprising twist, is EPM XI, a suite that integrates software from Cartesis and two additional acquisitions—SRC Software and Armstrong Laing Group.
The addition of an EPM suite helps Business Objects, a pure-play business intelligence provider facing a rapidly consolidating landscape, better compete with rivals like SAP and Oracle, two companies that are heavily focusing on EPM capabilities and pitching to chief financial officers. SAP and Oracle are the worlds largest and second-largest business applications providers, respectively. In August, research firm Gartner ranked Business Objects as one of the top three vendors globally in the Corporate Performance Management category as a result of its acquisitions in the past two years.
SCR, which Business Objects acquired in August 2005, developed financial planning and performance management software. ALG developed BI software that was based on analyzing businesses processes and activities.
The new EPM XI suite includes Business Objects Integrated Data Model software, which provides several key components: a metadata layer that describes data such as dimensions and hierarchies, a global assumptions layer that takes in exchange rates, price lists, economic rates and other variables and uses the information to create business models, a common data layer that includes financial and non-financial data and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for uses such as scorecards, and a business rules engine. This edition of IDM brings together financially intelligent EPM, BI, data integration and data quality into a single offering, according to Business Objects executives, in San Jose, Calif.
In the Webcast announcing the EPM XI suite, Trevor Walker, vice president of product marketing of EPM at Business Objects, said that by adding IDM and EPM capabilities together in a single package, Business Objects is essentially doing the integration work for customers. "Instead of buying a set of applications that must then be linked together, Business Objects EPM XI takes care of the integration and software reconciliation," he said.
Business Objects is aiming for the midmarket. Click here to read more.
Walker said that with the integrations done, Business Objects is focusing on building software to address key challenges faced by CFOs. To demonstrate his point, Walker announced two new add-on applications: The Close, and Forecast and Cost Control, released in tandem with EPM XI. The Close helps companies winnow time spent closing their books quickly and accurately by providing processes, workflow, configurations, reports, rules and best practices to help CFOs automate and shorten the overall closing cycle, Walker said. Forecast and Cost Control utilizes Business Objects intellectual property and processes to help companies connect financial plans with operational activities.
The company is also launching new domain and vertically oriented software, including several new applications in the works. Objectives Management helps companies define objectives and goals and make sure they work together. Supply Chain Analytics provides users with better visibility into the supply chain with direct integration back to financial impact, while another application, Funds Transfer Pricing, is geared toward the financial services industry.
Close and Forecast are the first in a series of applications Business Objects plans to develop for CFOs. Applications addressing areas like Sarbanes-Oxley compliance will follow. EMP XI is expected to be available by the end of September.
Perhaps indicating just how much BI vendors like Business Objects are in competition with entrenched applications providers like Oracle—which is considered a major consolidator as well—a caller in to the Webcast seemed to surprise speakers. When the caller identified herself as being from Oracle, Walker repeated the statement and asked if she had said she was from Oracle. "Yes, I did," said the caller, who without skipping a beat asked her question, which turned out to be quite technical in nature. Later during a Q&A session, Marge Breya, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Business Objects, made the comment to another caller that its "always interesting" to have someone from Oracle on the phone.
Another caller, identifying himself as an investor, asked the question, "Given recent consolidation in the industry and how the RFP [request for proposal] process has changed, whats become more important or less important, particularly around being an independent vendor?"
"From the RFP process, independence is not a specifically requested issue," Walker said. "But when you get into requirements—regardless of whether its an SAP or Oracle shop—youre going to see multiple instances, and with [merger and acquisition] activities, multiple [systems]. We see our independence and being able to bring together [disparate systems] working to our advantage."
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