informa
/
4 MIN READ
Commentary

SAP 'Fully Integrates' Business Objects

Until this week, my sense was that Business Objects remained the most autonomous of the three BI giants acquired in 2007 (with Hyperion absorbed into Oracle and Cognos a bit more independent but nonetheless aligned under IBM's Information Management division). Well, the new news I learned on Tuesday is that as of January 1, it's "SAP Business Objects" rather than "Business Objects, an SAP company." What's more, Business Objects' sales force is being "fully integrated" into SAP's sales force...
Earlier this week, I joined a few colleagues at InformationWeek to take part in an exclusive interview with SAP's Bill McDermott, President and CEO of Global Field Operations and an Executive Board Member. The two-hour discussion was broad ranging, but I honed in on the state of Business Objects and demand for performance management and process management. McDermott called the Bobj acquisition "one of the greatest moves that SAP ever made," and he also detailed a few ways in which the business intelligence vendor is being more closely integrated into SAP.

Never one to sound downbeat, McDermott said the acquisition has "turned out so well" because "Business Objects is platform agnostic, so when you're operating in a heterogeneous environment and you want to unify a management team on a common platform approach, you have to be able to extract data from any source. You have to be able to process that data very quickly and you have to be able to pop that data up to each role in the value chain based on the attributes that they care about. Before Business Objects, we couldn't talk to CEOs, CFOs and other executives about that as intelligently as we can today."Until this week, my sense was that Business Objects remained the most autonomous of the three BI giants acquired in 2007 (with Hyperion pretty much absorbed into Oracle and Cognos a bit more independent but nonetheless aligned and under the higher-level direction of IBM's Information Management division). Well, the new news I learned on Tuesday is that as of January 1, it's "SAP Business Objects" rather than "Business Objects, an SAP company." That puts the naming convention in line with "IBM Cognos." A small shift in language, but somewhat more powerful symbolically.

Much more significant is the news that as of this week, Business Object's sales force is "fully integrated" into SAP's sales force, something McDermott signaled last year when he publically stated he wanted Business Objects' salespeople to move from focusing on tools and products to focusing on enterprise applications.

"Initially we said we would run Business Objects side-by-side with SAP, but what we realized quite quickly is that SAP makes the trip to the top floor, and we head into the corner office for our first conversation," McDermott explained. "We know going into the first meeting [with a prospective customer] how that company compares to its peer-best and peer-worst competitors and what we can do to help them run their business better. That's why we had to get away from [Business Objects'] tools and product talk into talking about industry, peer-best, peer-worst, and how do you move the needle and how can this help you win the game. To do that well, we really had to integrate Business Objects and SAP."

McDermott added that the integration has been progressing since last January and that both companies wanted full integration. He also said SAP will educate Business Objects people on the SAP platform (and vice versa) while letting them lead the conversations on business performance optimization and enterprise performance management.

William Wohl, Sr., Vice President of Field Communications, quickly qualified that the latest moves to integrate Business Objects applied only to field salespeople, but I have to wonder if another shoe is going to drop. At an earlier point in the conversation, discussing Leo Apotheker's recent rise to sole CEO and Henning Kagermann's pending retirement - and not at all tied to talk of Business Objects - McDermott said "I think the times are right for SAP to make sure the belt is tight... SAP is at the size and scale now where you can pull the efficiency lever. When you have over 50,000 employees, you have to look for ways to be more efficient, leaner and more sustainable."

McDermott had plenty to say about demand for performance management and process management in the face of economic hardship, but I'll save that for a separate article next week.Until this week, my sense was that Business Objects remained the most autonomous of the three BI giants acquired in 2007 (with Hyperion absorbed into Oracle and Cognos a bit more independent but nonetheless aligned under IBM's Information Management division). Well, the new news I learned on Tuesday is that as of January 1, it's "SAP Business Objects" rather than "Business Objects, an SAP company." What's more, Business Objects' sales force is being "fully integrated" into SAP's sales force...

Editor's Choice
Mary E. Shacklett, President of Transworld Data
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer