Business Objects Rounds Out Analytics Suite

New financial analytics module addresses compliance management

Last week, Business Objects SA announced Finance Intelligence, the final deliverable of its BusinessObjects Analytics suite, which also includes modules for supply chain, human resources, and sales, among others.

Finance Intelligence marks a milestone of sorts for Business Objects. It’s the last in a line of traditional application offerings based on the company’s Enterprise 6 architecture, for example, most of which were conceived before the acquisition of Crystal Decisions Inc. The irony, of course, is that in spite of its extensive analytic reporting capabilities, Finance Intelligence doesn’t make use of Business Objects’ flagship Crystal Enterprise technologies.

“This kind of represents the final build out of phase one, kind of what we think a good analytic offering would be,” says Guy Weismantel, director of product marketing with Business Objects. “These [analytic applications] were previously built as the integration [between Business Objects and Crystal] was going on, so they’re currently on the Business Objects classic platform.”

That next version could appear later this year when Business Objects is expected to deliver Business Objects 11, a new release based on infrastructure components from Crystal Enterprise. “In concurrence with the roadmap with Business Objects 11, I think you’ll see us releasing new or updated versions of these [analytic applications] that really leverage the Crystal contributions, too.”

In the interim, says Weismantel, Finance Intelligence addresses ever-topical financial scenarios such as compliance management, cash flow analysis, and financial statement metrics and ratios.

“As we talked to our customers, we realized we had a real opportunity based on how they were using some of our reporting products to package [Finance Intelligence] as prepackaged analytics,” he comments. “It coincides very nicely with a lot of attention customers are getting from compliance issues, not just with Sarbanes-Oxley, also with but regulatory things in other countries. “

Finance Intelligence consists of five new modules that Business Objects developed using its existing analytic and reporting technologies, along with outside input from financial experts, Weismantel explains: “We took some of the best practices that we had, some of our analytics, application foundation products, and then also worked with a number of third-party consultants that had expertise in the financial domain.”

For example, Finance Intelligence’s new compliance management module features “very strong audit control capabilities,” as well as analysis capabilities, that are designed to help customers better assess and manage risk.

Similarly, the cash flow analysis module enables more granular insight into financial information, he claims. “This relates to the ability to dig down beyond the summary-level financial statements for our customers. The feedback we received from customers is ‘That’s great, but I’d really like to go down deeper,’” he observes. “So this gives me the ability to go in and see the accounts receivable, and not just understand who my best customers are, but also to get an idea qualitatively about how my department is being run, who are my best cash collection agents, things like that.”

In many cases, Weismantel says, Finance Intelligence—like other BusinessObjects Analytics offerings—can just bolt on top of a company’s existing Business Objects implementation. In other cases, he acknowledges, integration with a back-end data warehouse is required. “The kind of heavy lifting that our customers generally have to do with any implementation of BI is tying it back to their data warehouse, so what work there is to do is kind of mapping the existing data warehouse into our data model,” he indicates.

About the Author

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