Business Objects: Objets D'Art

By Joshua Weinberger  |  Posted 2003-03-01

PDF Download If pure-play business intelligence vendors become an endangered species in the coming months, Business Objects may be both a reason why and a compelling exception to the rule. The French company's 2002 purchase of analytic-software firm Acta helped thin the business intelligence herd, and at the same time moved to continue its healthy streak of 47 consecutive profitable quarters.

Customers, though, only care that the company continues to improve its reporting and analytic tools, especially the speed with which they operate.

At Thrifty Car Rental, where Sales and Marketing Business Analyst Kristi Benton says her company's BusinessObjects deployment is "the best reporting tool they've ever provided me with," the data warehouse is constantly updated. That makes Benton's job possible in the present tense. "Now I don't have a waiting period," she says. Before, "if processors were running in the data warehouse, and we tried to hit it, we were slowing down the data loads. Now most of the stuff I go for comes back in 30 seconds."

Immediacy always matters. At plastic-bottle-maker Consolidated Container, real-time reporting was more important than real-time analysis. "We had very basic questions," says Director of Information Technology Andrew Ziegele. "We wanted more live data and we didn't have the high-end analytics. The vast majority of all reports are live—as plants ship or receive or produce inventory, everyone can see that in real-time." Though much of the staff had been familiar with Cognos, Ziegele says, "between pricing and licensing, functions and features, we went with Business Objects." For facilities company W.W. Grainger, where Business Objects is integrated with SAP, customer service played a big role. "Business Objects really understood the mission that we had," says Vice President for Knowledge Management Services Sam Kim. "Not just from the software side."

Still, the software's simplicity and ease-of-use are key. Canadian Pacific Railroad only needed consultants for "a handful of days," says Michael Clarke, manager of corporate data management. "We didn't want to have a crew of consultants," Ziegele says. "We had other data conversion issues—Business Objects was the least of our concerns."

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Reference Checks & Company Info
Reference Checks

Executives listed here are all customers of Business Objects. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.

Andrew Ziegele
Director, I.T.
(678) 742-4629
Project: Atlanta-based maker of plastic bottles is more than halfway through a planned rollout in its 70 plants of BusinessObjects, covering financials, logistics and inventory.

Michael Clarke
Manager, Corporate Data Management
(403) 319-7917
Project: A user for five years, the transportation company has deployed BusinessObjects in three main areas: marketing, operations and customer service.

Don Stoller
Director, Information Management
(804) 527-5679
Project: Medical-product supplier first chose Business Objects back in 1996, and now uses WebIntelligence for a revenue-generating extranet with customers.

Steve Millward
Lead Business Financial Analyst
(919) 546-6472
Project: N.C.-based utility chose Business Objects over Cognos and Brio to improve its cost-management process by getting report-creation ability in the hands of analysts instead of programmers.

Kristi Benton
Business Analyst, Sales & Marketing
(918) 669-2230
Project: Has been running BusinessObjects 5.0 for the last two years, but will be phasing to Cognos as part of its merger with Dollar.

Sam Kim
VP, Knowledge Management Svcs.
(847) 535-1000
Project: The $4.8-billion facilities provider uses BusinessObjects, integrated with SAP, to coordinate a centralized source of information about its more than 400 stocking locations.

Company Info

Business Objects
3030 Orchard Parkway
San Jose, CA 95134
(408) 953-6000


Bernard Liautaud
Chairman, CEO, Co-Founder
Before co-founding the company in 1990, had been the deputy scientific attaché for the French Embassy in Washington, D.C.

John Olsen
President, COO
Runs global operations and, among other duties, is responsible for the e-store. Most recently, he was president and CEO of systems-management e-business software provider Marimba.

Mark Tice
Group VP, Worldwide Channel Sales
Formerly general manager of data integration, he managed the integration of Acta Technology (July 2002). Also ran global strategic alliances, managing partnerships with system integrators, IBM, Microsoft, and ERP vendors.

BusinessObjects 5i and WebIntelligence 2.6 are the latest of the company's reporting tools, offered alongside BusinessObjects Application Foundation and a planned update intended to highlight collaboration features.