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The Big BusinessObjects Resurgence

The last six months have seen a remarkable upsurge in BusinessObjects customer activity and it has taken me a little while to identify what’s possibly behind this.

It’s certainly not due to any marketing campaign or initiative from SAP who are preoccupied with other products and have really not paid a lot of attention to BusinessObjects for a while.

For at least the last three years, many BusinessObjects customers have either been courted by other BI vendors or have decided on their own to switch to another BI solution. There isn’t any one particular replacement product that has dominated – Microsoft BI, Microstrategies, Tableau, Qlikview and others have all been choices. The main erosion has been with the agnostic BusinessObjects customers, those that do not use SAP ERP or other SAP applications.  They have been attracted by the promise of better Business Intelligence with easier to use, more powerful and lower cost BI tools.

Interestingly, what appears to have happened is that about 18 to 24 months into the implementation of the replacement solutions, most of these customers still find themselves using BusinessObjects.


Well, it appears there are multiple reasons but a couple really stand out as the main causes.

The grass is not always greener on the other side

Firstly, the customer discovers that the new BI solution has gaps in its functionality and cannot easily do everything that BusinessObjects was doing. This is especially true in the area of Business Intelligence reporting. They realize that they will not be able to replace mission critical BI reporting and functions being performed by BusinessObjects easily or quickly.

Secondly, after implementing the new BI solution for a representative set or a few departments of the whole organization, it becomes clear that the cost in terms of both licensing and services is prohibitively too high.

This has resulted in these organizations rethinking their BI tool strategy and realizing that it makes sense both strategically and financially to keep BusinessObjects. They aren’t necessarily giving up on the new BI tools they purchased but, instead, keeping both and seeing what happens over the next couple of years.

As a result of deciding to keep BusinessObjects, they are rushing to partners to upgrade to the current BI 4.1 version and sometimes to re-license their software for right-sizing their deployment.

This has brought about a really interesting and positive resurgence in BusinessObjects customer activity. I have spoken to many BusinessObjects customers both in the US and UK who have substantiated this explanation.

I am not sure if SAP is aware of what is happening as most of the BusinessObjects agnostic customers are serviced by partners. The partners themselves are either already aware or becoming so very quickly.

The dozens of regional BusinessObjects and Crystal User Groups and meetings popping up all over the US are also helping to fuel this resurgence.  InfoSol’s “Let’s Speak BO” initiative with webinars, BO user meetings and IBIS solidly falls in place with this grass roots movement. ASUG has also recognized that something is happening as they saw their largest turnout in more than 3 years at their BusinessObjects conference in Ft. Worth, Texas (SABOC) last September. They are now looking to form a dedicated BusinessObjects Special Interest Group specifically for representation of the agnostic BusinessObjects users.

It certainly looks like 2015 is going to be a big year for BusinessObjects so let’s ride this wave together.

About Paul

Paul Grill started his career in Information Technology in the U.K. in 1978, as an Executive Data Processing Trainee for Honeywell. More than thirty years later, he still has a voracious appetite for learning as Information Technology continues to advance at an ever accelerating pace. He was first introduced to the world of Business Intelligence in 1991, in France, when he saw a demonstration of an early version of BusinessObjects on Windows 2.1. He returned to the U.S. to rave about this phenomenal product, but it was many years before BusinessObjects made it into the mainstream. Paul founded InfoSol in 1997, and made Business Intelligence one of the key solutions offered by the company. Today, InfoSol is a leading SAP BusinessObjects solutions partner, known for its expert consulting, education and innovative add-on solutions. Paul is well known within the SAP BusinessObjects community for his extensive knowledge of Business Intelligence, and he has lectured and written many articles on the subject. Paul enjoys writing, running and coaching kids soccer, and is passionate about Ancient Egyptology.

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  1. Paul, you nailed it right on the head. Great article!

  2. When a BI system doesn’t swoop in and magically solve everything than suddenly the whole project is a failure! Nevermind that there is a learning curve that needs to be accounted for and that data needs to be clean to be useful. If it doesn’t work perfectly out of the gate it was a waste. And that’s why so many BI initiatives fail.