Business Objects Makes Baby's First BI

Business Objects today announced a formal dive into the midmarket. Although midmarket companies have not traditionally listed business intelligence as a high priority, the need for affordable BI solutions is beginning to become more acute for SMBs. Delivering on this call, Business Objects is releasing the new Crystal Decisions product line, tailored specifically for the needs and budgets of midsize companies to introduce them to BI and help them get started. The vendor is also announcing a new partner plan that will help to develop vertical-specific BI solutions for the midmarket. Business Objects hopes that this multi-tiered initiative will help it gain precedence in a market which one analyst says "has no clearly defined leader." "It's a huge market and the reason why we're making these announcements is because we've noticed a significant uptake in the market of business intelligence by small and medium businesses," says Jaylene Crick, group product marketing manager for Business Objects. According to the company, midsized companies' investment in BI comprises $2.1 billion of the total $5.98 billion market. Additionally, the growth rate for SMB investment in BI is 12.5 percent compared to 9.8 percent for enterprises. Although investments are increasing, SMBs often do not have the resources to purchase and implement solutions targeted to larger companies. "Traditionally, companies have entered the mid-market for BI, but to do that they've watered down enterprise solutions and removed functionality," Crick says. She promises that Business Objects' approach is different; the vendor aims at providing end-to-end BI solutions, lowering the complexity while keeping the functionality intact. Business Objects will roll out the Crystal Decisions product line over the next few months, beginning with today's release of Business Objects Crystal Decisions, Standard Edition, meant to serve as an introduction to BI for midsized companies. "This package is designed to give them all the things to help them get started," Crick says. The solution includes ad hoc reporting, query analysis, dashboarding, and visualization. To improve ease of use, the application is designed to enable users without a technical background to format and analyze without the help of an IT department. The remaining products, which Business Objects plans to release in the upcoming months, will focus on data integration capabilities and performance management. The new midmarket partner initiative will utilize Business Objects' 2,300-member partner base to help deliver targeted solutions for separate midmarket verticals. The first of these solutions will be released in late February 2007. Michael Speyer, senior analyst with Forrester Research, calls BI solutions for midsized companies "a market that is in quite high demand right now." He explains that many of these companies have previously implemented ERP solutions and now desire to gain more control and better value out of the data that they already have. However, he adds, as far as vendors go "there is no clearly defined leader." Only time will tell whether Business Objects will establish itself as such. Related articles: SAS Tops Gartner's BI Magic Quadrant
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