• January 8, 2004
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

The New Business Objects

Nearly one month after acquiring Crystal Decisions, Business Objects hasn't wasted any time unveiling the newly combined company's prowess and promise. As part of this effort Business Objects is revealing its product integration road map; releasing its latest product, dubbed Crystal Version 10; and is bolstering its training and marketing efforts. Business Objects announced last July its initial plans to buy Crystal Decisions, which provides enterprise reporting software and services, in a stock/cash deal estimated at $1.2 billion. The deal, which closed on December 11, 2003, creates a combined company with more than 24,000 worldwide customers and annual sales of more than $800 million, according to Business Objects. This enables Business Objects to join the ranks of Teradata and SAS Institute in the first tier of business intelligence vendors providing enterprise reporting, ad hoc query and analysis, enterprise performance management, data integration, and analytic applications. "Today marks the beginning of a new era in business intelligence," said Bernard Liautaud, chairman and CEO of Business Objects, in a statement. "We would like to welcome the new employees and customers to the Business Objects family and we look forward to partnering with them as we continue to build a great company that will help our customers achieve stellar results in enterprise performance." After announcing its intent to acquire Crystal Decisions last July, Business Objects created 47 benefit teams with an eye on helping employees and customers get the most out of the merger, says Lance Walter, director of product marketing at Business Objects. "We know this acquisition will not be successful if joint customers are not happy. We visited more than two dozen customers around the world, some using Business Objects' and others using Crystal Decisions' products, to help prioritize the right way in which to integrate the product lines," Walter says. The result of these efforts yielded a three-phase approach, detailing how the two companies' product lines will integrate over the next few years. One of the main considerations for the product road map was to lower the total cost of ownership. Integrating the infrastructure of the product line will provide one place to manage all users' metadata, integration points to other systems, customizations, security, and more, according to Business Objects. Phase one of the product integration road map is the product integration pack, which will provide portal integration and common Web-service APIs, and will enable Business Objects metadata, or universes, as an optional data source for Crystal Reports. The company expects to deliver this integration pack in the second quarter of this year. Phase two is the platform-level integration, supporting products from both product lines running on a common infrastructure with common administration. The company expects to deliver platform-level integration by the end of 2004. Phase three is the final phase of integration, delivering a superset of all current product functionality on an enhanced, integrated platform, which Business Objects expects to deliver in 2005. Business Objects will continue to support existing Crystal Decisions products through 2007.
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