• May 3, 2006
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Business Objects Extends Across the Board

Business Objects (BO) debuted a series of new products to serve a range of customers, both big and small. One product is a multifaceted enterprise information management (EIM) strategy combining new services and partners, aimed at providing enterprises with a strong foundation of integration and data quality tools. For the midmarket BO introduced the Crystal Vision product line, comprised of two new products: Crystal Vision and Crystal Vision Server. The tools of the new EIM strategy are intended to improve the quality and consistency of information from BI reporting systems by presenting data from multiple sources in a common interface. The first tool, Data Federator, is designed for enterprise data integration, or what many in the industry refer to as enterprise information integration (EII). It creates a virtual, integrated view of disparate data sources in real time, making it easier for users to examine sources of operational data. The other new tool, Metadata Manager, allows system administrators to analyze metadata collected from sources, including BI systems and relational databases in order to explore data relationships and identify business rules. BO also introduced EIM Global Services, a range of EIM services including data integration and warehousing, or an analysis of customers' existing systems. This also includes support for partner companies, such as Purisma, to provide such services. "Complete, clean, and auditable data for reporting and analysis requires software tools for data integration, data quality, and data lineage, all tied together through a common metadata layer," says Philip Russom, senior manager of research at The Data Warehousing Institute. "Buying these tools from multiple vendors can be risky and time consuming. Business Objects is avoiding that by pre-integrating all of these into a single EIM strategy." Business Object's new EIM strategy is also the first sign the company is leveraging its acquisition of FirstLogic, a company that focused on bringing structured and unstructured data together. "FirstLogic is the foundation for this [EIM] announcement," says Leslie Ament, director of customer intelligence research at Aberdeen Group. "CRM databases, ERP database, whatever, they all operate using different formats and models. This is bringing that data together." For the SMB segment, Business Objects announced the release of a new dashboard visualization product layered on top of its popular Crystal Reports products. The Crystal Vision product line comes in client (Crystal Vision) and server (Crystal Vision Server) editions. The new software lets users transform and deploy sophisticated reports as dashboards interfaces. These new dashboard capabilities are powered by visualization technology that Business Objects acquired from Infommersion in November 2005. According to Kirk Cunningham, executive director of product marketing at Business Objects, Crystal Vision works off the new Crystal XI product line that BO shipped in November 2005. "We're providing point-and-click access to data across organizations that can be combined into Crystal reports and Xcelsius dashboards to provide a single version of the truth." The company is also rolling out a new release of Infommersion's core Xcelsius product, now called Crystal Xcelsius 4.5. The new version comes with 27 pre-built dashboard frameworks to help users design optimal visualizations. It has also been upgraded to support data exports to Word documents; up to now users have only been able to export to PowerPoint and PDFs or the Web. "It'll make it easier for companies to get the aesthetics of their dashboards right," Cunningham says. The new Crystal Vision products will be sold directly through Business Objects' channel partner network and are expected later this month. Pricing for the Crystal Vision client starts at $795 per user. The Crystal Vision Server edition is priced at $12,500 for a concurrent access license with one year of maintenance and support. Pricing for Crystal Xcelsius 4.5 starts at $195, but is being offered as a free upgrade for existing Xcelsius 4.0 customers. Related articles: Gartner's First Data Quality Magic Quadrant
Business Objects Plans to Acquire FirstLogic
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