• December 7, 2005
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Business Objects Leads the Pack in BI ROI

Business Objects has topped Nucleus Research's BI ROI Scorecard--the firm's evaluation of BI suites' ability to deliver ROI to customers--surpassing evaluated contenders that include Cognos, Hyperion, Microsoft, MicroStrategy, and SAS Institute. Each vendor received a composite score on a one-to-five scale comprising five elements: ease and speed of deployment; adoption based on usability and potential scalability of adoption; support based on the tool's ability to function with limited internal support costs; business impact, a measurement of the solution's potential to deliver returns though clear and repeatable benefits; and the vendor's track record and ability to help customers maximize ROI. The scorecard also offers advice for effectively deploying BI tools. BusinessObjects XI pulled in a compound total of 4.6, earning 5s for deployment, adoption, and vendor, and 4s for support and business impact. "[What] really tipped the scale for them is what they're doing in their product set to make it easier for people who are brand new to BI tools to get working with [the] product pretty quickly," says Kathy Quirk, research manager of Nucleus Research. She adds that customers were impressed with Intelligent Question, the company's solution that enables users to ask questions and get answers without building a query or knowing underlying systems or data. Cognos 8 and Hyperion System 9 just slightly trailed Business Objects. Each earned identical scores of 4.4; 5s for deployment and vendor and 4s for adoption, support, and business impact. "Typically with BI installation you're looking at multidepartment rollouts," she says. "Cognos's approach to have [a] central install makes it easy for you to add more people to it." Regarding Hyperion, "providing a unified set of tools [is] one leg they have over their competitors, Business Objects and Cognos. They're the first among its competitors to have one unified product set" for planning and forecasting and reporting, she says. Microsoft received a 4.2, a 5 for the vendor category and 4s for the remaining factors. The next release of Microsoft Office "will enable people to use Excel as a dynamic front end as opposed to a static one," she says. "BI vendors have gone out and found ways to reach out to Microsoft Office users...but now Microsoft is taking the real thing and making it more interactive." MicroStrategy 8 earned 4s across the board, while SAS Enterprise BI Server received 4s for deployment, support, business impact, and vendor and a 3 for adoption. "A number of people I spoke [with], who while not so happy with the [way] MicroStrategy prices and packages things, are willing to go along with some of that pain because they think the product technically is the best there is." SAS's strength is in higher end predictive analytics products and now it's trying to reach out to a broader kind of general business users, according to Quirk. "They don't have all the bells and whistles that some of the other competitors do in terms of the user interface [and] opinions available to designing reports," she says. However, it is "combining the reporting aspect and the analytic aspect, so that people can...use information from the past in order to predict or anticipate what's coming. In the future, products are going to look more like what SAS has to offer." The report also delves into industry trends, the biggest of which is standardization, stemming mostly for end-user companies' desire to deal with fewer vendors and tools, Quirk notes. But "it's not an easy process. People I've spoken to may say `Yes we've standardized on one [tool]', but that doesn't mean that that's the only BI tool they're using in the organization." Dashboards are what's driving adoption, due partially to their visual nature. "It provides a nice quick snapshot that people really like, then it gets driven down to other areas of the organization," Quirk says. It's about "trying to simplify things so that you get the information [without wading] through different spreadsheets or different reports." Related articles: Business Objects: Refocusing BI's Role?
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