Business Objects Gets Social BI

The XI 3.0 business intelligence platform includes unstructured data, mobility and other lessons from the socially networked world.

Business Objects announced Feb. 12 the next major iteration of its BusinessObjects XI platform-a release it has dubbed the industry's first intelligence platform.

It is also Business Objects' first major release since it came under the SAP umbrella in January, when SAP completed its nearly $7 billion acquisition of the French business intelligence software maker.

The company based development of the XI 3.0 on emerging trends affecting how knowledge workers now perform their duties, said Marge Breya, executive vice president and general manager of BI Platform for Business Objects (now a subsidiary of SAP) during a press conference Feb. 12.

Breya said Business Objects addressed these complex issues by changing the way people connect with any business network around the world.

"The modern executive needs a bridge from the folks that typically know how to mine a database versus everybody else in the department. Our goal is to make sure that everyone has the information they need," Breya said.

To tackle the analysis and reporting issues involved in each emerging trend, she said, the XI 3.0 platform makes both structured and unstructured data available to people in the enterprise-not just IT-as well as to a company's business network.

The XI 3.0 platform provides an integrated text analysis feature that allows the "thoughts and opinions of customers and other people found in unstructured sources such as the Web, notes fields and e-mails to be easily incorporated into business intelligence and decision making," Breya said.

Click here to read about how Business Objects' acquisition by SAP could threaten its relationship with IBM.

To make more types of data available to more users, Business Objects retooled the user experience to include search and exploration, mobile BI, and desktop-based metrics.

The company also updated a number of tools, such as Crystal Reports 2008. The revamped application has embedded Flash and Flex tools to help users integrate BI with business processes, officials said. Business Objects also upgraded Web Intelligence, a reporting and analysis tool for SAP and non-SAP environments, to add offline support, and it upgraded Xcelsius, a data visualization tool.

The platform now includes a new feature, BI widgets, which puts personalized metrics on user's desktops. Mobile functionality provides remote access to BI reports and data.

The company also upgraded Voyager, an OLAP [online analytical processing] data exploration tool for financial and business analysts, with multidimensional analysis and visualization capabilities.

The XI 3.0 platform also includes additional support for BI federation that lets IT departments customize deployments consistently across a global footprint. The platform can also be deployed on premises, on demand or as a combination of the two, company officials said.