Business Objects Extends BI

Upgrade offers data movement, analysis.

Business Objects S.A. solidified its claim to providing an end-to-end business intelligence platform with the introduction of its Enterprise 6 suite late last month.

The suite features Web-based query, reporting and analysis tools; a BI portal; a data warehouse; and metadata integration with enterprise software. The WebIntelligence 6.0 component enables ad hoc query, reporting and analysis. New features include support for multiblock reports, synchronized multiblock navigation and complex user-defined calculations. Enterprise 6, which will be widely available next week, includes new report component templates, zero-footprint HTML report creation, and an option to save or publish richly formatted reports to Microsoft Corp. Excel and Adobe Systems Inc. Acrobat formats.

Business Objects, of San Jose, Calif., enhanced the BI portal in this release, adding new end-user analysis functions such as interactive sorting and filtering, easier document navigation, and one-click personalization, company officials said.

A new data warehouse building tool collects data and makes it usable for query and reporting. The warehouse is populated by connectors powered by technology Business Objects got when it bought Acta Technology Inc. last July. The software lets customers use native interfaces to get data from packaged enterprise applications. And metadata management capabilities in Enterprise 6 provide real-time alerts from operational systems out to enterprise management dashboards.

Bernard Liautaud

Enterprise 6 fits into the trend of BI software helping enterprises to proactively manage corporate performance, said Business Objects CEO Bernard Liautaud (pictured left). "BI, which was before more a rearview mirror—we just did reports and analyzed performance—now helps drive performance better," Liautaud said.

Business Objects is trying to change its BI products from being report-centric to being more metric-centric. While Liautaud said Enterprise 6 will move the company closer to its vision of making BI tools ubiquitous in the enterprise, as desktop productivity tools are today, he said that this is just a vision. "The hurdles to complete the vision is not so much a question of technology. Its a question of management philosophy," he said.

Business Objects user Don Stoller, director of information management at medical products distributor Owens & Minor Inc., said the WebIntelligence enhancements should let him extend the technology to more internal users at his company. "Theyve made it much more compelling for a wider user base," said Stoller, in Richmond, Va. But Stoller isnt ready to buy into Business Objects concept of an end-to-end BI platform. He said he plans to stick with extraction, transformation and loading technology from Informatica Corp., which Owens & Minor has used for years.

Additional reporting by Jeff Moad.