Whats Next from Microsofts Stealth Office Group?

Microsoft's OBA now has a cross-divisional charter, which involves orchestrating the company's business intelligence push. (Microsoft Watch)

Microsoft Corp. went public on Monday with its end-to-end business intelligence strategy. But company officials still arent talking much about the team charged with implementing the BI strategy, or what the next deliverables from that team will be.

That team, the OBA (Office Business Applications) group, is the Microsoft entity formerly known as the "Business Intelligence Applications" team. OBA is run by Lewis Levin, the Microsoft Corporate vice president in charge of business intelligence.

The charter of OBA (according to Microsofts Web site): To develop "strategies to increase the adoption of Microsofts BI platform and Microsoft Office in enterprise analytic applications.

"The groups goal is to enable Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Office to bridge the gulf between enterprise data sources and the information workers who need to view and analyze business information, plan and make decisions, and collaborate with others."

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read more about Microsofts business intelligence road map.

"Were charged with unifying sales and marketing across Microsofts BI products," said Chris Caren, the general manager of OBA.

Caren said his division is focusing increasingly on extracting data from line-of-business applications, as opposed to targeting the more traditional kind of BI products and technologies.

The apps from which the data is being extracted include not only Microsofts own products, like Office and the recently rebranded Microsoft Dynamics ERP/CRM wares, but also third-party line-of-business software, Caren said. Microsoft will rely on the adapters for SQL Server 2005 to access data from non-Microsoft products, he said.

OBA is the unit behind "Mendocino," the technology under joint development by Microsoft and SAP AG, which is designed to link SAPs back-end processes with Microsoft Office. An early beta of Mendocino is due later this year. Microsoft has declined to talk about final ship targets for the technology, which will be packaged and sold by both Microsoft and SAP.

OBA also is the team driving Maestro, the server-based Microsoft Office Business Scorecard Manager 2005 product application that Microsoft plans to ship on Nov. 1.

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