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Beefed-Up Bellwether

Business Objects' most recent earnings indicate the customer side still has a healthy appetite for BI tools.
Business Objects' rivals don't like to hear the software company referred to as a "BI Bellwether." But despite advances made by the likes of Cognos and Hyperion in recent months, a bellwether is exactly what Business Objects continues to be.

That said, Business Objects' most recent earnings indicate customers are maintaining a healthy appetite for BI tools.Sales during Business Objects' second quarter rose 18 percent to $262.4 million, while the company's bottom line better than doubled, to $23.1 million. Significantly, sales of software for performance management -- an technology area where many believe Business Objects has lagged behind Hyperion and Cognos -- rose 36 percent. Those results don't include any benefit from Business Objects' acquisition of SRC Software, which isn't expected to finalize until later this year.

Business Objects is bigger than most of its rivals in terms of sales -- unless you include advanced analytics maker SAS, which now positions itself as a business intelligence firm. But Business Objects' size alone isn't what's driving its current success. Early indications are that the other BI vendors and data integration firms are turning in financials that outshine last year's results.

The demand is out there. It would overstate things to say the world of BI has transformed into a seller's market, but for now at least, rising tides are lifting most boats on the vendor side. Including the industry bellwether.