Update: Business Objects spent 18 years leading the market for business intelligence software, applications that help knowledge workers and executives gain greater understanding of the market behavior and business context of their users.
Now part of SAP in the wake of a $6.8 billion buy, the BI company hopes to extend its lead in hosted, or SAAS (software as a service), BI as well.
Business Objects Dec. 10 released a new version of its BI OnDemand software with new content creation and development capabilities and accelerator for SAAS CRM (customer relationship management) power Salesforce.com.
BI OnDemand is essentially a version of its flagship BusinessObjects XI suite, which includes applications for performance management, planning, reporting, query and analysis, and enterprise information management.
While the XI suite comprises apps customers install on their own servers and PCs (on-premises), Business Objects hosts BI OnDemand on its own servers, provisioning the associated apps to customers over the Internet as required. This is the hallmark of cloud computing-allowing users to procure software service over the Web without clogging up their own hardware and storage.
Indeed, the shift to the cloud popularized by Salesforce.com, Amazon Web Services and Google’s App Engine leads to great opportunities for a company like Business Objects. Here’s why.
Enterprises typically employ a hybrid of on-premises and on-demand applications for their workers, partners and customers. Deriving BI from these disparate data sources is a challenge, so BI OnDemand enables customers to share reports and dashboards that include both on-premises and on-demand data, Mani Gill, vice president of Business Objects’ OnDemand business, told eWEEK.
For example, Gill said the new content creation and development environment helps companies that complain of having limited visibility into their sales pipeline.
Challengers to Business Objects OnDemand?
The new version of BI OnDemand lets customers search on-premises and on-demand data sources to create the reports needed to see the entire pipeline in order to save time and cut administration costs. Business users can just type in a keyword to find the data they need for a certain report and make it available within the data warehouse for future reports.
“We’ve created technology that lets you easily tap into that information that’s sitting all over the place,” Gill said, adding that Business Objects also licenses third-party data from Dun & Bradstreet and Thomson Reuters for its BI OnDemand software.
Moreover, the absence of business intelligence support for large Salesforce.com data sets has to date challenged customers who need to dive deeper into their Salesforce data and combine it with data from other applications.
The new Salesforce.com accelerator lets customers create a cloud-based data repository for their gigabytes of Salesforce.com data on Business Objects’ servers, which can be combined with data from other on-demand and on-premises sources. This lets customers migrate large amounts of data and prepare it for reports, ad hoc reporting and dashboards, Gill said.
BI OnDemand is offered in a monthly recurring subscription model. For a typical midmarket implementation with 75 users and 100GB of storage, the average cost per user per month would be approximately $107 over two years. For a typical large enterprise implementation with 1,500 users and 500GB of storage, the average cost per user per month would be approximately $47 over two years.
It’s early days for BI OnDemand and for the SAAS BI market overall. Gill said Business Objects released the first version of its SAAS solution more than two and a half years ago; it now has more than 200,000 subscribers (ADP is a major user). This is a drop in the bucket compared with the 46,000 companies all over the world that use BusinessObjects XI.
Business Objects has erstwhile challengers for BI OnDemand, including IBM’s Cognos, whose Cognos Now! package includes self-service dashboards, integrated data, analysis and reports as a prepackaged BI appliance or as a hosted service, and startups PivotLink (formerly SeaTab), LucidEra, Panorama and Good Data.
But Gill dismissed these challengers, noting that the biggest competition is from customers trying to decide whether to go to SAAS or stick with traditional on-premises solutions from Business Objects, Hyperion, Cognos or the raft of other players that flesh out the broad BI market.