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8/13/2008
11:56 AM
Cindi Howson
Cindi Howson
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Business Objects Says 'Look Beyond BI'

"It's a case where 1+1=3." Speaking at the first-ever Business Objects Influencer Summit in Boston this week, this is how Sanjay Poonen, SVP and GM of Performance Optimization Applications, explained a recent increase in BI revenues at the company since it became a unit of SAP... A key message was not to think of Business Objects as only a BI vendor, but rather, as a vendor that provides everything to help companies link strategy to execution.

"It's a case where one plus one equals three." Speaking at the first-ever Business Objects Influencer Summit in Boston this week, this is how Sanjay Poonen, SVP and GM of Performance Optimization Applications, explained an increase in BI revenues at the company since it became a unit of SAP.

Normally, following an acquisition, sales decline for the first year or so. Not so with SAP's acquisition of Business Objects, with Poonen claiming sales were 30% higher in the first half of the year compared to 2007. He explained that there is a difference in market dynamics when a market leader acquires another leader versus a niche player. Surprising as well is that company officials estimate half the sales came from new accounts, so the strong performance is not only from Business Objects tapping existing SAP customers.Some BI vendors host analyst summits, but Business Objects' new approach is noteworthy relative to past events and to competitors. In the past, Business Objects focused its education efforts on analysts only and ran the event parallel to its user conference. At this first "influencer" summit, more than 100 bloggers, journalists, academia, and, of course, analysts, attended. It's clear that Business Objects is casting a wider net, in contrast to some vendors who seek to educate only the mega analysts such as IDC and Gartner.

Much of the summit focused on the company's strategic differences versus competitors. Their key message was not to think of Business Objects as only a BI vendor, but rather, as a vendor that provides everything to help companies link strategy to execution. The tools that facilitate that can be everything from BI to performance management to EIM and analytic applications. Lee Ditmar, a principal at Deloitte Consulting, pointed out that sometimes these tool categories only seem to preserve silos that ultimately everyone is trying to break down. Perhaps. But as we all advocate, start small with a vision for expansion, and small may mean starting with a single module.

Beyond the big-picture presentations, the most interesting conversation for me was lunch with Andrea McLester, BI Manager at the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). We often think of how BI is used to improve profitability, but at Andrea's organization, BI is used to save lives. She later started a presentation with the question, "when any of you got on the plane Monday to head to Boston, did you wonder if it would be the last time you would see your loved ones?" (Uh, well, as I flew out of Newark admidst wicked storms, that thought had crossed my mind.)

UNOS uses Business Objects to ensure the organ donations are equitable and that all the checks on blood types pass. It reminds me that the value of BI is limited only by the creativity in ways data can be used to solve problems and uncover opportunities, whether to drive profits... or to make the world a better place!

Sincerely,

Cindi Howson"It's a case where 1+1=3." Speaking at the first-ever Business Objects Influencer Summit in Boston this week, this is how Sanjay Poonen, SVP and GM of Performance Optimization Applications, explained a recent increase in BI revenues at the company since it became a unit of SAP... A key message was not to think of Business Objects as only a BI vendor, but rather, as a vendor that provides everything to help companies link strategy to execution.

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