Business Objects Adds SRC Software to BI Suite

Combined offering expected to allow both financial, operational analysis

Business Objects SA is set to announce this week that a line of performance management tools it acquired last year will be integrated with its own suite of business intelligence products.

The company gained the budgeting, planning and forecasting software in its $100 million purchase of SRC Software Inc. about a year ago.

The integrated product promises to let users analyze financial data and operational information using a single tool set, according to officials at Paris-based Business Objects. They also noted that adding the SRC software to the Business Objects XI tool suite will help the company sell products to organizations looking to whittle their lists of BI providers. Deeper Analysis

Brent Day, assistant vice president at Zions Bank, said his company has been using the SRC tools for more than two years and is now installing the combined XI offering. He said he expects that the new tools will let users drill down to the transaction level of data from various sources as part of the process of evaluating financial performance.

"We haven't wanted to burden our planning system with the transaction-level detail from the general ledger system," Day said. "Now we are looking at some different ways to drill down to that data and really analyze performance and understand better where we sit financially."

In addition, he said, combining the performance management and business intelligence tools will allow the Salt Lake City-based company to analyze profitability. Analysis from mined data on products like checking and savings accounts can be merged with the financial data to provide information on profitability, he said.

Day also noted that "we need to understand not just the general ledger account-level details but \[also\] what products a given household may have."

Zions Bank expects to have the integrated Business Objects XI software in production by the start of 2007, Day said.

Jason Rose, director of planning marketing at Business Objects, said the updated XI business intelligence offering will include the full suite of SRC planning, budgeting and forecasting applications. It will allow companies to combine data from plans, budgets and forecasts compiled using the SRC tools with the reporting, dashboards, scorecards and data visualization housed in XI, Rose said.

Meridian Health, which operates three hospitals in New Jersey, has used a beta version of the integrated tool set and plans to put XI into production on Jan. 1, said Steve Esposito, corporate budget manager at the company in Neptune, N.J.

The biggest advantage to integrated tools, he said, is that the former SRC tools now support Microsoft Corp.'s Active Directory services. The Business Objects tool set already supported Active Directory.

"One of the beefs we always had [with the SRC tools] was we had to maintain a manual security system," Esposito said, noting that the integrated product will alleviate a lot of work now done by Meridian systems administrators.

Business Objects said that the integration of the planning software and the BI tools for data sharing is complete now; integration of centralized security management should be finished by December.

David O'Connell, an analyst at Nucleus Research Inc. in Wellesley, Mass., said integrating financial and operational data in the Business Objects tool set will allow users to get a more "apples-to-apples" comparison for managing financial performance. "You are getting a single version of the truth, and all the pieces of the truth are emanating from the finance department," he said.

For example, O'Connell said, companies often have difficulty calculating profitability when they have different systems managing data about their subsidiaries, products and customers.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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