RealTime IT News

Business Objects, Crystal Decisions Boost BI

Business Objects Monday debuted the latest version of its business intelligence software suite replete with improved performance and analysis features, more data integration productivity and dashboard customization.

Business intelligence (BI) software consists of applications that make computer systems more attuned to customer behavior. It is geared to helping enterprises make more informed business decisions about what to offer their target audiences.

The space has been roiled by a number of acquisitions of late, including the blockbuster of them all in July -- Business Objects' move to buy Palo, Alto, Calif.'s, Crystal Decisions, which also upgraded its software suite Monday.

BusinessObjects Enterprise 6.1 is the improved suite Business Objects unveiled. The France-based vendor said the new capabilities make analysis and reporting accessible to casual report consumers, something that rival Cognos will be revealing Tuesday with its ReportNet software.

There is little question Business Objects' timing is a preemptive strike to steal some of the thunder of Cognos' launch in New York City. Elsewhere in the sector, Hyperion has purchase Brio Software and Actuate has gobbled up Nimble Technologies -- all as booster shots to their reporting software lines.

BI companies have been praised for their ability to offer complex, enterprise-class reporting capabilities for report authors and power users who are sophisticated in writing code for reports. But an added emphasis has been placed of late to supply software for casual reporting consumers who don't have the programming knowledge.

That's what Business Objects has done with version 6.1.

Improvements to the outfit's WebIntelligence software let users to add and remove report data and include simple calculations without switching to a sophisticated report-authoring environment. But the embellished software features new capabilities for so-called "power users," too. It boasts expanded OLAP drill-through capabilities and OLAP calculation creation supporting the MDX multi-dimensional query language.

BusinessObjects Data Integrator offers a new graphical user interface (GUI) and bundles data preview and profiling directly into the extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) environment to reduce design and data validation time.

The dashboard view has also been made easier to use. Users can personalize their own display of performance indicators. For example, a user can organize metrics by initiative, as well as select important targets, trends and variances.

Boiled down, Business Objects' altered Enterprise suite are geared to accommdate the explosion in volume, velocity and variety of data sources, as well as the growing numbers of analytic tool end-users within organizations.

Meanwhile, Crystal Decisions, headed for an initial public offering (IPO) until Business Objects decided it needed to beef up its reporting software offerings, upgraded the Web-based report creation, modification and analysis capabilities with new ad hoc features for Crystal Enterprise.

This makes it easier for users to create reports. modify the layout highly formatted reports and perform OLAP analysis on reports over the Web using a DHTML interface. Functions can be turned on or off, and secured for specific users or groups of users.

Eric Rogge, vice president and research director at Ventana Research, said this modular approach allows the company to add features such as ad hoc to without having to revamp its entire suite.