Business Objects Completes Crystal Reports Integration

BusinessObjects XI, a new release of the vendor's business-intelligence suite, is geared toward a wider audience of users.
Business Objects SA has begun shipping BusinessObjects XI, a new release of its business-intelligence software that completes the integration of Crystal Decisions' reporting software with Business Objects' own product line.

BusinessObjects XI (for "extreme insight") also continues the company's push to tailor its software for a wider audience by offering a BI (Business Intelligence) Encyclopedia feature and improving the software's links to Microsoft desktop applications.

Business Objects, a leading business-intelligence software vendor, acquired Crystal Decisions, which developed the popular Crystal Reports query and reporting software, in late 2003 for $1.2 billion. The addition of the Crystal software boosts the reporting capabilities of the Business Objects suite. Although a release of Business Objects software last year supplied front-end integration with Crystal Decisions' reporting product, Crystal Reports, BusinessObjects XI finishes the job by fully integrating the two systems.

"The integration of the two systems will be seamless," says Jonathan Rothman, data-management director at Emergency Medical Associates, a privately held physician group that provides emergency-room doctors to hospitals and performs billing and other records-management services. It was a beta test site for BusinessObjects XI.

Emergency Medical Associates has used Business Objects software, including its Application Foundation Dashboard Manager, for about four years for a variety of data-analysis tasks. But the physician group also used Crystal Reports, before its acquisition by Business Objects, for running reports against the organization's patient-tracking electronic-records system, Rothman says.

Merging the products "will allow us to take advantage of a single portal to deliver Business Objects reports as well as Crystal reports on the Web," Rothman says. While he has no specific timetable for upgrading to the new software, he said he hopes to soon. "I like what I've seen."

BusinessObjects XI's BI Encyclopedia is embedded in reports that define business and technical terms for users and helps them find reports with related information. BusinessObjects XI also provides users with metadata about information in reports, such as where it came from and how it was calculated, to help put the information in context.

The software offers improved links with Microsoft applications such as Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. It also offers new collaborative discussion capabilities and a new central management console for IT managers.

BusinessObjects XI is available now for Windows systems and will become available for other platforms throughout the first six months of 2005. Pricing is based on configuration.

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