Analyst's View: Hyperion Unveils Strategic Vision for Management Systems

With companies seeking a common technology foundation for financial and operational decisions, Hyperion has set its sights on delivering a complete management system.
In recent briefings with analysts, Hyperion has made it clear that it aims to provide a common management environment for the processes involved in making informed decisions across the business, whether those decisions are financial, operational or technological. Building on the fundamentals of decision support systems, Hyperion hopes to attract customers looking for a common technology foundation for a performance management system.

Hyperion has pursued its strategy through two avenues: continuing to invest in markets where it has a strong presence, such as financial applications and BI technologies, and building its performance management products into what it now describes as a management system. To accomplish this latter goal, though, Hyperion will need to expand its direct focus beyond finance and IT into operations management, rather than relying on partners. The company is basing this management systems strategy on executives’ needs for transparency, performance accountability, confidence in information and further control and discipline in using data. This is a perceptive evolution of Hyperion’s position, and one that fits with the Ventana Research view that businesses should increase investments in technology for enabling performance management across finance, operations and IT.

The Hyperion System 9 suite (now in version 9.3) is the vendor's first step toward a common platform for BI and applications and a framework for management processes. In this version, Hyperion has advanced its information management efforts by introducing dramatically improved capabilities for administration and support for relational and multidimensional information architectures. Hyperion is continuing to drive deployment of its BI tools for reporting and analysis by evolving its dashboards with performance scorecards. However, it still has work to do in rationalizing the consistency of its product roadmap.

Hyperion has continued to align its BI products to support the desktop, Web and Microsoft Office as end-user platforms. Its Smart Space BI application environment, coming in 2007, is will be coupled with Microsoft Windows and offer new types of desktop "gadgets" that will present subsets of System 9 functionality. With release 9.3, Hyperion brings tighter integration and enhancements to its Workspace and to Smart View, which lets users access Hyperion System 9 modules through Microsoft Office. It also adds enterprise portal support for SAP and IBM and improves XBRL support for financial reporting. With these significant new capabilities and promised additional enhancements this year, Hyperion has advanced its position in the BI market.

The company also recognizes the importance of underlying information management technologies that address data quality, master data management and data integration. Through acquisitions of technology, OEM deals and the embedding of Informatica PowerCenter data integration technology, as well as through development of its own data management technology infrastructure, Hyperion has improved the integration of its platform with enterprise information architectures. In its primary research on information management in 2006, Ventana Research found that the need for information management technologies exceeded the need for front-end BI technologies; Hyperion is wisely responding to this market demand and deepening the support it offers to its customers.

Hyperion will need to motivate its partners to support its new strategy and move to the new management system framework and versions of its technology. Ventana Research expects stiff competition in this market, as BI and performance management become top priorities for IT and business. Vendors including Actuate, Business Objects, Cartesis, Cognos, Information Builders and MicroStrategy have a similar focus on using BI as a bridge to performance management across the enterprise. Hyperion will also need to incorporate its capability to do what-if and other forward-looking analytics into the common platform rather than requiring a separate application for such analyses. The market for BI has matured significantly in recent years. Organizations looking for breadth and depth in a BI product portfolio should consider Hyperion. Linking finance and operations in a common management system is an important move for organizations, and Hyperion is addressing it, much as it has done in the past with enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM). The company's product roadmap shows positive steps toward helping businesses develop a dedicated system for management.

Mark Smith is CEO And Senior Vice President of Research At Ventana Research. Write to him at [email protected].