Business Objects Completes Crystal Acquisition

Company mum about the future

Last week, Business Objects SA completed its acquisition of Crystal Decisions Inc., closing out its $1.2 billion bid for the enterprise-reporting specialist.

Users of Crystal’s reporting products—Crystal Reports and Crystal Enterprise—will probably have to wait until January to find out how, if at all, the acquisition will affect them, however.

As of press time, Business Objects was mostly mum about its post-acquisition plans, announcing a new executive management team that includes three members of Crystal Decisions: former COO William Gibson; former vice president of products Andrew Handford; and former vice president and general counsel Susan Wolfe.

Analysts have said that there’s the potential for overlap between Business Objects’ and Crystal’s respective product stacks, but in a statement, chairman and CEO Bernard Liautaud said the two companies complemented each other in a number of ways. “In terms of product lines, distribution channels, and international presence, the combination of Business Objects and Crystal Decisions is extremely complementary and delivers strength across the board,” he said in a prepared release.

Liautaud also touted his company’s new strengths as a provider of end-to-end BI and reporting products. “We can now offer our customers the de facto standard product in reporting, the market’s leading interactive query and analysis solution, and world-class enterprise performance management products for scorecarding and dashboards."

Because of the size and value of the Crystal acquisition, Business Objects has been tight-lipped about its post-acquisition plans, especially in the absence of SEC approval. This led to some degree of consternation among Crystal users, many of whom expressed concern that as Business Objects discloses plans for integrating Crystal’s technologies with its own product stack, it will alter many of the features and licensing terms to which they’ve become accustomed.

Others have said they prefer Crystal’s best-of-breed approach to Business Objects’ end-to-end BI strategy. “I prefer dealing with a company that does one thing well and is competitive, versus a diversified company who also may try to eliminate the competition,” said Jim Tyler, a report developer with an IT services company that caters to the financial services industry, in an interview just after the acquisition.

Analysts close to Business Objects have reported being impressed by the company’s post-integration planning. “Part of the reason [Business Objects is] quieter is that the deal hasn’t formally been approved. But what we get from Business Objects’ management is a great sense of confidence, and appropriate insight into their processes, that the merger would go well,” said Aaron Zornes, a senior vice president of application delivery strategies with consultancy META Group, in an interview last month. “They’ve given us a great sense that they know what they’re doing and they’re executing on target.”

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.