Business Objects Is More Than Just Business Intelligence

During the Business Objects Influence Summit 2008, representatives of SAP and Business Objects discussed current trends, strategies, and possible solutions together with partners and experts.

Loss of knowledge and lack of risk management

Within the next ten years, about one third of the world’s workforce will retire. “These people have been involved in business processes for the majority of their careers, and will take their knowledge and experience with them when they leave their company,” says Jonathan Becher, senior vice president of Marketing at Business Objects. This shift in workforce demographics – known as “Gray 2K” – will require companies to capture the accumulated knowledge of the aging workforce and find ways of making it available to the next generation of business professionals.

Furthermore, younger staff uses applications differently than their predecessors. Ten years ago, processes were the order of the day, Becher explained. Companies identified repeatable steps, optimized them, and ran them over and over again. Although this greatly increased operational excellence, it often also resulted in silos. Applications younger workers are familiar with require greater freedom of information. “Business applications must accommodate this dichotomy of freedom and control,” Becher argued.

Another important topic for companies is risk management, says Dan Miller of IBM. According to a CFO survey, two-thirds of the companies surveyed experienced a substantial risk event in the last three years; half of those companies did not have a formal program installed to deal with the risk. Those who did have a formal program experienced significant performance improvements in terms of revenue and stock price.

Closing the gap

The solutions by SAP and Business Objects ensure a connection between strategy, insight, and execution. With these, companies can tap into information often latent in their business processes.

The solution portfolio currently focuses on two areas:

  • Performance optimization applications (POA) (including enterprise performance management (EPM) and SAP solutions for governance, risk, and compliance (GRC))
  • Business intelligence platform (BIP)

“EPM and GRC are very connected – every view of profit has to be connected to compliance, every view of strategy has to be connected with risk,” explained Sanjay Poonen, senior vice president and general manager, Performance Optimization Applications (POA). “If you do this effectively you have a governance model in place.”

Closer development cooperation with SAP

Specifically in the EPM sector, Business Objects solutions have taken the lead, says Doug Merritt, executive vice president and general manager, Business User Global Sales. This is due to their superior usability and out-of-the-box capabilities – not just in the area of planning and consolidation, but also in the areas of profitability and strategy. According to Merritt, the combined Business Objects portfolio helps companies reign in their often fragmented organization and deliver insight from all locations and subsidiaries.

The business intelligence platform (BIP) group has been extending the integration of its tools with SAP solutions. The group’s goal is to provide quality data and the appropriate tools to get the right information to the right people at the right time – all within a single platform that works with all databases and application. “After all,” says Marge Breya, executive vice president and general manager of the Business Intelligence Platform group, “all employees in the enterprise need information in a timely, trusted way to achieve their objectives.”

Jonathan Becher’s closing remark: Business Objects is not just a BI company but also offers information discovery and delivery together with information management. “Our platform isn’t just Business Intelligence, but also the applications that let you optimize your performance.”