Business Objects acquires SRC

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I reported recently that Business Objects is to acquire SRC and I promised that I would write more about this acquisition once I had further details. Well, although I do have more information, it will be a little while before the acquisition is completed, so finalised details are not yet available.

What we do know, however, is that Business Objects is one of the major business intelligence vendors and that SRC is a relatively small, if well-regarded, player in the market for corporate performance management (CPM).

There is little enough to say about Business Objects as the company is so well known, though it is worth noting that since Cognos acquired Adaytum, Business Objects has publicly espoused its emphasis on business intelligence as opposed to the distraction of CPM. However, it would say that, wouldn’t it? Especially as rumour has it that Business Objects was also in the running to buy Adaytum. Be that as it may, Business Objects has now clearly leapt off the CPM fence.

The most interesting part about this acquisition is not that Business Objects has bought someone in this field, but who it has opted to buy. SRC is, as far as I know, alone in focusing on industry specific solutions to CPM. For example, it recently launched an impressive CPM package for the hospitality sector. Indeed, I was so impressed by this that I was moved to write a white paper about it as an exemplar of how users should think about implementing CPM. This is available for free download.

Now you may not know this but Business Objects organises its sales force around vertical lines and, once this is appreciated, then the acquisition of SRC, as opposed to anyone else, makes obvious sense.

While Business Objects cannot, at this stage, talk about how it intends to integrate SRC with its existing product set, in my opinion the company has done an excellent job with the acquisition of Crystal, so I do not believe that integration will be a major issue. More interesting is the question of how the market will like a vertically oriented solution as opposed to a generic solution of the type that companies like Cognos, Hyperion, OutlookSoft or Cartesis can offer?

At the very high end there is probably an argument in favour of a generic approach – if for no other reason than that the largest organisations will probably need significant customisation so a vertically-oriented solution does not add much value. Conglomerates will also favour a more generic approach. However, the rest of the market is likely to favour a more sector-based methodology and this is particularly true in the mid-market, where the SRC-based offering is likely to appeal to Business Objects’ channel partners.

Up until now Cognos has had a free run at the CPM market without its arch-rival being evident. That is no longer the case: let battle be joined!