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Performance Management: The Next Big Thing for BI Vendors

Business Objects bows first integrated release in the wake of its Cartesis acquisition.

Performance management is a $1 billion software market with fast growth potential, according to Forrester Research. That's why mature business intelligence vendors are acquiring, integrating and developing their way into the business. The latest example is Business Objects, which today launched Enterprise Performance Management XI (EPM XI), the first fruit of the company's April acquisition of Cartesis, one of three performance management vendors the company has snatched up (the other two being ALG and SRC).

"Business Objects wasn't really in the applications business until it picked up SRC three years ago," says Forrester analyst Paul Hammerman. "They've stepped up rapidly in enterprise performance management and they're looking to become one of the top players."

A number of vendors have been bulking up on performance management this year, led by Oracle's March deal to buy Hyperion. In May, SAP acquired OutlookSoft, and just last week, Cognos, which entered the performance management market some six years ago, announced it will buy Applix, a $70 million vendor with in-memory OLAP technology suited to what-if scenario planning.

"Companies like Business Objects, Cognos and SAS have sold a lot of BI software to technical buyers," says Hammerman. "Embracing performance management is a growth strategy to make the products more appealing to the business buyers. Business Objects can now sell into the CFOs office, and when they do, the BI technology goes with it."

It's hard to separate business intelligence and performance management revenues, says Hammerman, but he estimates Business Objects now ranks behind only Oracle (including Hyperion) and Cognos (including Applix) in performance management software marketshare.

Business Objects EPM XI combines the financial consolidation and reporting of Cartesis with the profit management capabilities of ALG and the dashboarding, scorecarding and BI capabilities of Business Objects. Business Object's five-month effort to combine the technologies has yielded shared security and an integrated data model underpinning all components (including the BusinessObjects XI platform). The company has also published a roadmap to deepen model integration to supply chain data and to further consolidate in the area of planning, where both Cartesis and SRC had strong products.

"The original Business Objects [SRC] planning product was very good at operational planning, getting out to thousands of users like an Excel on steroids," says Trevor Walker, vice president, product marketing. "Cartesis planning is very good at central model-based planning that reconciles the financial statements. Those products can now talk to each other in this release… but by next June we will come out with a new planning product that will combine the best aspects of operational and central model-based planning."

Business Object's roadmap also calls for a number of performance management "solutions" to be added by the end of this month, including Supply Chain Analytics, Funds-Transfer Pricing (for banking and finance) and Objectives Management (for corporate strategy). By year end, Business Objects will add "The Close," a financial close solution, and "Forecasting and Cost-Control."

"The solutions include the required [performance management and BI] components along with prebuilt reports and dashboards, business processes and best practices explaining how the data, metadata, features and functions work together," says Walker.

The next vendor to ramp up in the area of performance management will be Microsoft, which will launch its PerformancePoint Server next week. The product has its technology roots in ProClarity, the performance management suite Microsoft acquired in April 2006.

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