Software Trainers Level Complaints Against Business Objects

Instructors claim the business intelligence firm is using its license for Crystal Reports to restrict the way users are taught about the software.
An equally significant issue, according to Hamady, is that Business Objects requires anyone teaching a public class to use software approved by the company.

Hamady claims that Business Objects explained to him that its Crystal Reports license allows the use of the software only for the training of individuals within instructors' internal business organizations -- in effect ruling out the possibility of independent teachers instructing third parties.

In April of 2005, Hamady says, Business Objects sent letters to instructors informing them that after June 1 they would need to pay license fees to teach public classes. He says this has affected many independent providers negatively, and some instructors have begun requiring their students to bring their own licenses to class.

Business Objects defends the license agreement on the grounds that it helps the company make sure that end users get quality instruction.

"The purpose behind this new software licensing program for trainers is to ensure that our end users receive the best possible training and course room materials," Meyerhoff says. "When we started the program, we estimated that more than 80 percent of Crystal Reports training classes in North America were unsanctioned or unsupported by Business Objects -- meaning that many trainers had out-of-date software and course material."

At least one Business Objects user group also has voiced complaints about the company's guidelines regarding the ways it enforces instruction. Lori Weber, IS Systems Administrator for Blue Cross of Idaho, heads a Crystal Reports user group. After her group invited an independent speaker to address the group, Business Objects informed them they were violating user group guidelines, Weber says.

"Our response was to ask Business Objects to send presenters or Web-based presentations based on the topics we would discuss during a specific meeting," says Weber. She says Business Objects never came through on any of the presentations. Instead, her group received an e-mail saying Business Objects would only provide presentations on the new XI version of the company's flagship software. "Business Objects, it seems, is only interested in sending people to do sales pitches. It has been our feeling that Business Objects doesn't really care that the people who participate in these local user groups are their customers," Weber says.

Business Objects denies trying to control the content taught by user groups. "User groups are independently run organizations with self-elected steering committees, comprised of customers and partners, who choose what content is presented at their meetings," Meyerhoff says. "Business Objects offers a quarterly presentation topic; however, the steering committee can accept or decline putting that on the agenda."