Tag Archives: bobjsummit08

Business Objects Summit closing Q&A

Jonathan Becher hosted a wrap-up Q&A with Doug Merritt, Marge Breya and Sanjay Poonen. I’ve consolidated the responses rather than attributing them to the individuals:

  • On reasons for Business Objects’ continued growth: major contributors include having the SAP sales force also selling Business Objects products, and expansion of the product suite to include GRC and EPM. Also, synergy of two leaders in different markets coming together to create something bigger than the sum of the parts.
  • On portfolio roadmap for products being sunsetted or merged (a.k.a. the stuff that I wasn’t allowed to blog about earlier): it’s probably accurate to summarize that some of the SAP BI products will be discontinued but the customers will be migrated to appropriate Business Objects products, and there will be a few products that are merged.
  • On the growth of on-demand BI, expect to see some of the Business Objects applications (as opposed to just the platforms) offered using a SaaS model, although there’s nothing definite being discussed here.
  • On the link between BI and business rules, which hasn’t really been mentioned explicitly today: operational BI is part of their portfolio, and they’re working on ways to integrate more closely with BPM, BAM and decisioning.
  • On open source: they’re not seeing stress from open source products so are working on making their current successful OEM strategy work for them rather than considering releasing open source products.

After the panel, Becher did a summary about closing the gap between strategy and execution, and the trends that are driving innovation in business intelligence:

  • Unified information, moving from structured information generated within the four walls of the organization, to structured and unstructured and internal and external information
  • Collaborative decisions, moving from individual contributors within functional silos, to teams collaborating and communicating across boundaries
  • Business network optimization, from point relationships with customers and suppliers, to a dynamic network of partners

Business Objects’ goal: to transform the way the world works by connecting people, information and businesses. A bit ambitious, but they believe that bringing together BI, EPM and GRC is truly transformational.

That’s it for the Business Objects Influencer Summit; I’m staying on here tomorrow for the SAP SME day and will continue blogging then.

Fireside chat with Doug Merritt at Business Objects Summit

Keeping with SAP’s excellent blogger relations, a few of us bloggers had a chance for a quick chat with Doug Merritt about acquisitions in the space, the “walking dead” of BI vendors, popular BI applications, SaaS BI, go-to-market strategies, the transition to being part of SAP, new product segments, selling into big accounts versus mid-market, the challenges of distribution, and recent maintenance fee increases. Interesting stuff.

This is my first Business Objects event, and I’m still getting used to hearing the insiders refer to it as “bob-j” (presumably from the pre-acquisition ticker symbol).

Business Objects Summit: Franz Aman on BI Platform

Franz Aman, VP of Product Marketing, gave us a product roadmap of the BI platform within Business Objects and SAP. Unfortunately, he declared the session as being under NDA, even though a lot of what he talked about had nothing to do with future product directions, so I can’t share it with you.

The true innovation, which I hope that I’m not breaking NDA to report on, is the use of a background gradient that goes from SAP yellow to Business Objects blue in the boxes that represent products jointly developed by SAP and Business Objects:

Secret SAP-Business Objects background

Shhhh…you didn’t see it here.

Business Objects Summit: Sanjay Poonen

Moving from business intelligence to the applications that rely on business intelligence, we heard from Sanjay Poonen, SVP and GM of Performance Optimization Applications. He started off with the cycle that we saw earlier in the day, with insight being linked to execution and process optimization, and focused on the governance, risk and compliance aspects of this cycle.

EPM 7.0He sees business intelligence as a central contributor to EPM, GRC and ERP, and with SAP having a leadership position in all of these, they can provide a total application suite for the CFO. Their product portfolio includes both SAP and Business Objects offerings:

  • SAP Strategy Management
  • Business Objects Financial Consolidation
  • SAP Business Planning and Consolidation
  • SAP GRC Process Controls
  • Business Objects Profitability and Cost Management
  • SAP Spend Analytics

These tools are becoming more collaborative, since almost all situations involving EPM and GRC will require a degree of collaboration between different people within an enterprise, and pull in information from both internal and external sources to create a more complete view of an business situation.

Business Objects Summit: Marge Breya on product portfolio

Marge Breya, EVP and BPM of the Business Intelligence Platform group, gave us a whirlwind briefing on the product portfolio, which is made up of Business Objects assets, some SAP assets, and new products being built jointly:

  • Governance, Risk, Compliance (GRC), where they hold the overall #1 position worldwide with a 21% market share
  • Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), made up of financial performance management (#2 with a 20% share) and operational performance management (#1 with a 23% share), the latter of which includes both standalone and embedded components
  • Information Discovery and Delivery, made up of query, reporting and analysis (#1 with a 24% share) and advanced analytics (just introduced)
  • Enterprise Information Management (#4)

Not surprisingly, they are pursuing a complete integrated stack with other SAP products, but they also integrate with products from Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and independent application and database vendors.

She then introduced John Mayer, director of consulting and testing services at Apotex Group (a pharmaceutical firm), to discuss their use of the products: they’re a big SAP user, and are also using Business Objects in several areas. They’ve been giving the end users tools that they can use to have a view into the corporate data for ad hoc queries, and having seen the value of that, it’s spreading across the organization and helping to drive their data warehouse initiative. IT keeps overall design control over the universes and databases — you don’t really want users doing this since they may not understand the implications of, say, searching on a multi-million record table using an unindexed field — but the users create their own queries and reports.

Breya continued with the message of making this easier for the not-so-technically-minded to create their own queries, reports and dashboards. Their intelligence platform puts a semantic layer over the messy technical stuff (metadata management, master data management, etc.), and creates a common services infrastructure for finding and using those information components as services from the analysis and reporting layer.

They have a large suite of information consumption tools in that query, analysis and reporting layer:

  • Crystal Reports (production reports with drillable visualization)
  • BI Widgets
  • BI Mobile
  • Polestar
  • Web Intelligence (ad hoc reporting and analysis)
  • Text Analytics
  • Voyager (OLAP advanced analysis)
  • Predictive Workbench (advanced statistical analysis)

Today, they’re announcing a new product in that suite: Xcelsius Present, a data visualization tool. From today’s press release:

Xcelsius PresentXcelsius Present is a data-visualization tool that transforms ordinary, static Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheets into captivating visuals and allows business users to share them via Microsoft PowerPoint or Adobe™ PDF files. Through interactive data visualizations and a simple, point-and-click interface, Xcelsius Present enables business users to create professional-looking visuals in just minutes, resulting in engaging experiences for presenters and audiences alike. Using interactive graphics – including dials, charts and gauges that clearly convey business cases and demonstrate “what if” scenarios – business professionals can involve, inform and persuade their audiences in meaningful ways with stunning visualizations.

This is a sub-$200 product, aimed at a broad range of business users who want to add some nice visualizations to their spreadsheet data, but there’s probably also a consumer market for this as well; in fact, one of their online demos is a college cost calculator.

They’re also announcing Crystal Reports Basic for SAP Business One, allowing for easily customizable drillable reporting on SAP Business One data that can be shared with others.

She quickly coverred their data services portfolio, which provides all the usual data management functions but also data federation and management of unstructured data such as RSS feeds.

They provide on-premise solutions, but also have more than 125,000 subscribers for their SaaS BI offerings.

Business Objects Summit: Partner Panel

Narina Sippy, SVP and GM of GRC at Business Objects, hosted a panel of three major partners: Lee Dittmar of Deloitte, Glenn Gutwillig of Accenture, and Dan Miller of IBM GS. Inevitably, this started with the “mine’s bigger than yours” comparisons, because apparently when it comes to Business Objects professional services practices, size does matter.

The most interesting part of the discussion was in response to an audience question about whether it’s possible to reach the nirvana of enterprise-wide information access and sharing, or if we’re stuck with unintegrated silos of information within enterprises. The panel felt that the leaders in moving to enterprise-wide integrated information management will gain such a competitive advantage — compliance, internal collaboration and other benefits — that it will force the rest of the market along quickly behind it.

Business Objects Summit: Day 1 Keynote

I’m here in rainy Boston at the Business Objects Influencer Summit, which was kicked off with Jonathan Becher, SVP of Marketing for Business Objects. It’s a very process-oriented message (which explains why I’m here): using business intelligence to drive process efficiency, improve insight to close the gap between strategy and execution, and add flexibility to create new business processes that align operations to strategy.

He was joined by Doug Merritt, EVP and GM of Business User Global Sales (moving from a product role), who continued with the message of how total insight allows organizations to optimize business performance. He discussed a number of customer case studies, focusing on how their easy-to-use end-user tools are being used to solve real business problems.

He also showed the strong tie-in between business intelligence to core SAP systems: insight, strategy and decisions feeding into monitoring, process refinement, process execution and events.

It’s only been just over six months since Business Objects’ acquisition by SAP, a period when most acquired companies take a bit of a dip in sales, but they’ve managed to keep their numbers on an upward growth path.

Becher then introduced Dr. Robert Kaplan from Harvard Business School and Palladium Group, inventor of such business strategy and measurement concepts as balanced scorecard and activity-based costing. We’ve also been given a copy of his book, The Execution Premium — Linking Strategy to Operations for Competitive Advantage, which I look forward to reading. He walked us through the main concept in the book: closed-look cycle that links strategy and operations:

  1. Develop the strategy
  2. Translate the strategy
  3. Align the organization
  4. Plan operations
  5. Execution
  6. Monitor and learn
  7. Test and adapt

In the middle of this cycle are the strategic plan (e.g., balanced scorecard) and the operating plan (e.g., forecasts, budgets, dashboards), with links to the several steps in the cycle that either create the artifacts of the plans or are informed by those artifacts, as well as interacting with each other.

Sep 2 and 3 represent the creation of the balanced scorecard, and translating that into operational improvement programs (step 4) is a new focus in Kaplan’s book. And here we are again, talking about process — since that’s what step 5 is all about — and how balanced scorecard helps to determine which processes have the most impact on a business’ performance, and are therefore the ones that should be the focus of process improvement efforts.

Becher took us back around the cycle, showing how Business Objects is applied at each of those steps (except execution), which provided an interesting perspective on the different roles of Business Objects within cycle that we in the BPM world know as design-execute-monitor-optimize.