Last month's acquisition of software-as-as-service (SaaS) provider Nsite gives Business Objects a leg up in on-demand delivery.
Nsite is a process-management platform that lets you create automated, Web-based routing and approval workflows for applications such as quote-to-cash processes, sales discounts, expense reporting, travel authorizations and invoice authorizations.
But it's not so much what Nsite does as how it does it that really matters. SaaS is one of the hottest categories in IT, expected to account for 25 percent of the business software market by 2011, according to Gartner, up from 5 percent last year.
One could also speculate that lurking behind the scenes is Business Objects' interest in business process management (BPM), another hot category that is growing as fast as 40 percent per year by most estimates. Confirming widespread acquisition rumors, Bob Farrell, CEO of BPM firm Metastorm, says "every major BI player has talked to every leading BPM player."
Unlike most BPM vendors, Nsite focuses on very simple processes, but the deal still fits the trend toward operational BI. "Every single [Nsite] application is BI centric," says Steven Lucas, vice president of strategic markets at Business Objects. "Nsite has dashboarding as the first thing that you see when you log in, and they have a report builder built into the suite."
Business Objects also coveted Nsite's integration tools. "They have an extensible platform," says Lucas. "If we want to integrate with a third-party data source, whether it's on premise or online, they have a very nice Web service interface." --Doug Henschen