BI Vendors Broaden Reach

Enterprises looking to consolidate business intelligence software applications have a wealth of new options to choose from.

Enterprises looking to consolidate business intelligence software applications have a wealth of new options to choose from.

Cognos Inc. will hold a launch event in New York this week for its ReportNet enterprise reporting platform. Meanwhile, Business Objects S.A., Crystal Decisions Inc. (which is to be acquired by Business Objects next quarter) and Information Builders Inc. have new products designed to steal some of Cognos thunder and position themselves as providers of end-to-end BI solutions.

Paris-based Business Objects this week will announce its Enterprise 6.1 suite with new capabilities for analysis, standards-based integration, performance, scalability and easy deployment. Crystal Decisions, of Palo Alto, Calif., already strong in reporting, is adding ad hoc query and analysis capabilities in its Crystal Enterprise product, also due to be announced this week.

Information Builders, in New York, will unveil ETL Manager, a set of tools to manage data warehouse building and maintenance. The tool—which is built on adapter technology from Information Builders subsidiary, iWay Software—will be a part of Information Builders WebFocus 5.3 release, due next month.

Cognos, meanwhile, will launch ReportNet, its long-awaited product for high-volume production reporting.

All these companies are seeking to provide one-stop shopping for enterprises looking for everything from data extraction, transformation and loading to query, reporting and analysis.

"The trend in the business intelligence space is towards enterprise business intelligence," said Gerald Cohen, chairman and CEO of Information Builders. "Companies want to pick a standard to do all their business intelligence with one vendor."

Tom Nather, senior systems analyst at Penske Logistics LLC, said limiting BI options to as few vendors as possible is the way to go. "It makes everybodys life a lot easier to deal with one vendor and one set of technologies," said Nather, at Penske Logistics Logistics Technology, Engineering and Quality Center, in Beachwood, Ohio. "It helps to keep overhead costs down, too."

The only other BI product Penske uses is Crystal Decisions Crystal Reports product, embedded in its i2 Transportation Management application, Nather said.

Penske Logistics uses Business Objects WebIntelligence product to distribute reports to internal users and customers through an extranet. The company is looking to deploy other Business Objects applications on top of WebIntelligence, although Nather said its too early to comment on the plans. "Business Objects offers us tools and products we can grow our business into," he said.