Based on technology Business Objects obtained from its buyout of data visualization firm Infommersion, the new product will let Excel users interact with data and share reports. For instance, a sales manager using the tool could transform an Excel spreadsheet containing results for a particular region into an interactive presentation. The presentation can then be shared in PowerPoint, PDF, Outlook or Web-based formats.
"We just launched BusinessObjects Intelligent Question, which brings BI to every worker," said Business Objects chief marketing officer Rene Bonvanie in a statement. "With Crystal Xcelsius, Business Objects arms any Excel user with a power and easy-to-use BI solution."
BusinessObjects Intelligent Question, an element of Business Objects Release 2, lets report writers use drop-down menus of words and phrases to assemble queries such as, "Who were my top five customers based on net sales quarter before last?"
Integration between business intelligence products and Excel is critical for BI vendors, most of which recognize that the spreadsheet tool is the data interface of choice for non-technical workers. Microsoft's debut of Business Scorecard Manager has further upped the ante for established BI vendors. The new business intelligence server works with the SQL Server database and is designed to deliver business performance metrics.
Business Objects is selling Crystal Xcelsius as a download, and plans to make a boxed software package available. The high-end version of the software sells for $495, with added software upgrades available for extra. A more stripped-down version of the product sells for $195, not including available upgrades.