SAP Agrees To Buy BI Vendor OutlookSoft

The deal is the latest example of an ongoing convergence of business process automation and business intelligence.
SAP has agreed to acquire OutlookSoft, saying it plans to integrate the latter company's financial analytics software with SAP enterprise resource planning applications.

The deal is the latest example of an ongoing convergence of business process automation and BI. The German software maker said Tuesday that it expected to complete the transaction in June, pending approval by government regulators. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

From a technical perspective, OutlookSoft is a "fill-in" acquisition that would add planning, budgeting and forecasting software to analytics already in SAP ERP. "OutlookSoft completes another key component of our multi-year strategy to build, partner and acquire unique offerings for CFOs (chief financial officers), a strategy based on thorough market analysis and customer input," Doug Merritt, corporate officer and head of business user development at SAP, said in a statement.

OutlookSoft, based in Stamford, Conn., offers predictive analytics, finance-ready business process flows, and a library of procedures guiding business users through all performance management activities. Founed in 1999, OutlookSoft has more than 700 customers worldwide.

OutlookSoft applications are built on a service-oriented architecture, which means they can be integrated with other software using XML-based Web services standards. SAP's NetWeaver integration middleware will be used to deliver OutlookSoft applications, along with other BI software from SAP, to a single user interface.

The industry has been moving toward a marriage between business intelligence and business process automation for months. For example, Oracle in March said it would buy BI vendor Hyperion for $3.3 billion;and Tibco, a business process management vendor, agreed this month to buy BI vendor Spotfire for $195 million in cash. Late last year, BI software maker Business Objects bought Nsite, an on-demand process management platform that creates Web-based routing and approval workflows for applications such as quote-to-cash processes, sales discounts, expense reporting, and travel authorizations.