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Crystal Decisions Moves In On Asia's BI Market

Often, organizations find themselves swarmed with software applications meant to help manage data and run more efficiently. If that sounds like your company, chances are, your company is not getting the maximum return on its IT investments.

In any company, data is a critical asset and managing it efficiently can be life or death in the competitive business world. As a result, companies have invested millions of dollars into business intelligence (BI) applications in an effort to gain competitive advantage and maximize profitability. According to IDC, the BI market is expected to grow from US$4 billion in 2002 to US$7.5 billion in 2006

Why BI? According to Crystal Decisions (CD), although companies have collected tons of data, they still have problems enhancing the data they have captured.

Says its Asia Pacific vice-president, Lee Boon Huat: "A typical fortune 500 company has 400 application systems but few of these applications are designed share information with one another. This challenge is enhanced by the fact that data doubles every 12 months." It would therefore be fabulous if this problem could be overcome with the user being able to seamlessly pull up information from enterprise-wide sources using just one application. Better yet if that same application could be used to create reports and analyze the information that have been retrieved, helping decision makers to make better business decisions and creating value for their companies and customers.

That is exactly what the company's latest BI solution, Crystal Reports 9, aims to do. It aims to help organizations achieve maximum return on investment from their existing data systems, including ERP and CRM, and help improve overall business visibility. This solution claims to address several issues: the need for improved productivity and efficiency in report creation; the need for tight integration of reporting into enterprise Web applications; and the need for dynamic end-user access, interaction and modification. What's more, it's a multi-platform application. So whether a user is on JAVA, .Net or COM, he/she would still have the ability to store, share and re-use existing reporting components, and integrate reports into his/her current environment.

As BI becomes a higher priority in many organizations these days, "all companies are facing increasing pressure to harness from their investment on these information systems and more importantly, get value out of the data they have captured, deliver that value across the entire enterprise as well as outside the company so that they can gain a competitive advantage," says Lee.

As Jaylene Crick, Crystal Reports product manager puts it: "It is not just about physical reports...To the end user it is 'what can I do with the information in the report?' 'How is it going to help me make more optimal business decisions?'"

CD's vice-president of products worldwide, Andrew Handford, adds that it would be a great opportunity for businesses to use reporting and analysis tools as part of their infrastructure as they can help build up business processes.

For example, financial management company Merrill Lynch uses CD's solutions to give customers and financial consultants secure, real-time access to their investment portfolio and transactions, which can be viewed, printed or downloaded onto their computer. Another customer, Toyota, enables dealers to view information that helps them deliver personalized information to customers, suppliers and partners over the Web.

CD currently has strategic partnerships with Microsoft, PeopleSoft, IBM and SAP. Some of its customers include Hitachi Asia Ltd, Schenker Logistics and Daiwa Securities.

While the company's biggest BI market is in North America, it has plans to tap on the huge potential in Europe and Asia Pacific. In Singapore, CD was ranked fourth when it comes to top-of-the-mind recall of BI applications software vendors, said a recent report by Frost & Sullivan.