I was invited yesterday to attend the Business Objects Influencer Summit in Boston (thank you Somill), and I thought I would share with the Community my impressions about the event.
This event was designed to bring together Business Objects executives, customers, analysts, media specialists, and partners to discuss how Business Objects is innovating and helping companies in today’s demanding business performance activities.
The summit’s theme was titled: “Transforming the Way the World Works“
Business Objects Influencer Summit
The purpose of this event was for Business Objects to detail its strategies and technology solutions that are helping customers optimize their business performance.
SAP and Business Objects are driving product innovation as an enabler of business transformation for organizations, as well as focusing on customer needs to support the strategy to execution cycle.
The summit started with a introduction by Jonathan Becher (SVP Marketing – Business Objects) to set the stage on ‘Closing the gap between Strategy and Execution‘, and was immediately followed by a presentation by Doug Merritt (EVP and GM of Business User Global Sales – Business Objects)
Doug reviewed the Business Objects sales organization goals, targets, the current marketplace competition, and how Business Objects is offering better value to customers.
Doug also outlined recent customer wins for Business Objects among new and existing SAP customers:
- Neptune Orient Lines Railways (APAC region) for providing an Enterprise BI framework, including ERP, GRC, EPM capabilities
- The City of Edmonton (Canada) leveraging Business Objects solutions to improve a fragmented existing BI landscape
Doug emphasized the uniqueness of SAP / Business Objects solutions:
- Integration capabilities to SAP and non-SAP back-end execution systems
- Strong SOA adoption to improve integration and implementation delivery of solutions
- SAP providing ‘end to end’ business processes across its entire Business Suite (i.e. ‘hire to retire‘, ‘order to cash‘, ‘customer acquisition support‘), instead of a ‘siloed’ business process approach
In conclusion to his presentation, Doug stated that the focus for the future is still on customer satisfaction which then drives customer success rate.
Jonathan then introduced Dr. Robert Kaplan (Baker Foundation Professor – Harvard Business School). Dr Kaplan is a recognized expert in ‘linking costs and performance management to strategy implementation and operational excellence‘, which could be characterized as ‘closing the gap between strategy and execution‘. Dr Kaplan is also well known for his published papers on Balanced Scorecards and Activity Based Costing concepts and principles.
Dr. Kaplan discussed how linking strategy to operations is a critical component of any successful organization. He indicated that today’s technologies and tools are available to support realization of an effective management system (i.e. strategy, organization alignment, operations, event monitoring, and business changes)
These presentations were followed by a panel discussion moderated by Narina Sippy (SVP and GM Governance, Risk, and Compliance Business Unit – Business Objects), and included the following consulting firms’ representatives:
- Lee Dittmar (Principal – Deloitte Consulting)
- Glenn Gutwillig (Senior Executive – Accenture Information Management Services)
- Dan Miller (Associate Partner – IBM GBS Business Intelligence and Performance Management Practice)
The panel discussed many different topics, including the following:
- Economic slowdown impact (especially in North America). Consensus was that despite the economic global slowdown, the BI / EPM / GRC services area seem to be less impacted, and is seeing a continued growth rate
- The inertia of data silos and the unnecessary complexity of processes are the biggest barriers for an organization to transform data into information, and then into Insight or Knowledge
- SAP’s acquisition of Business Objects will likely translate into customers migrating from SAP BI to Business Objects solutions over the long term. In the short term, demand for Business Objects solutions within the non-SAP existing customer base is reported strong and growing
- Linking strategy to execution will strongly influence future customer implementation project requirements
After a quick coffee break, Marge Breya (EVP and GM of the Business Intelligence Platform Group – Business Objects) presented an overview of the Business Objects products portfolio (specifically in Information Management and Information Discovery product groups).
Marge announced the following new product offerings, and demonstrated some of their capabilities:
- Xcelsius Present 2008 (official announcement – dashboard screenshot – launch a demo of the product)
- Crystal Reports 2008 (official announcement)
Sanjay J. Poonen (SVP and GM Performance Optimization Applications – Business Objects) reviewed how SAP and Business Objects solution offerings are complementary in supporting the ‘strategy to execution‘ link, and then discussed the strengths of the common product portfolio to address Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), and Governance Risk Compliance (GRC).
Sanjay reported the following product offering releases, and summarized some of the investments and acquisitions made by SAP in this space:
- Business Objects Enterprise Performance Management (EPM)
- Business Objects Strategy management 7.0
- Business Objects Profitability and Cost Management 7.0
- Business Objects Financial Consolidation (Cartesis acquisition)
- SAP GRC 2.5
- SAP Business Planning and Consolidation 7.0 (Outlooksoft acquisition)
- SAP Spend Analytics (Analytics Inc acquisition)
In the afternoon, a closing keynote was scheduled but I was unfortunately unable to attend.
From my perspective, SAP did a great job in organizing this event. It was a great opportunity to discuss, share ideas and information with different types of audience (i.e. executives, customers, partners, analysts).
It is becoming more obvious that a similar evolution to the one that occurred for process users (i.e. power users, functional experts, etc.), is also starting to happen for the business users (i.e. executives and management users).
Business users are demanding not only access to all enterprise data, but they are also asking for the ability to analyze and visualize governed enterprise data from which clear Knowledge or Insight can be derived. At the end of the day, corporate board members and key executives want a stronger and more closely looped feedback between business strategy and execution in order to minimize risk exposures.