Despite a downturn in IT spending, the success of a troika of Canadian companies suggests a rosier picture for the business intelligence market.

“”In general, it wouldn’t surprise you to say IT spending has been more difficult than ever. But I’d say business intelligence is one of those

tech areas that is core to businesses,”” said Michael Langton, a partner with Toronto’s Newcomp Solutions Inc. “”No technology is completely recession-proof, but I believe business intelligence is as recession-proof as possible.””

“”I think if you look at what business intelligence brings to a company that hasn’t had it, it’s like a light bulb going off,”” added Gary Shaffran, senior vice president of Montreal-based Syntax.Net.

Syntax and Newcomp are two of three Canadian companies recently recognized with Pinnacle Partner Awards from Cognos Inc. For both Syntax and Newcomp, the reseller category honours made it four wins in four years — as long as the award themselves have existed.

“”Syntax and Newcomp are pretty much perennial Pinnacle players for us,”” said Ted Jandl, vice-president of North American partner sales for Cognos in Burlington, Mass.

This year’s Pinnacle awards, presented at Cognos 2002 Summit in Atlanta in late March, also included for the first time an OEM partner category. The six inaugural winners included another Canadian firm, Mississauga’s, Ont.’s Financial Models Company Inc.

“”These guys are our highest performing in terms of revenue sell-through,”” Jandl said of the 15 Pinnacle winners in both categories. He did not offer the companies’ revenue specifics. “”But there are qualitative issues as well. We were looking for innovative solutions. We were looking for value adds.””

Jandl said FMC, which began embedding Cognos’s business intelligence technology inside its own applications 16 months ago, has met all these criteria in its approach to serving the banking industry.

“”It helps raise our profile in the industry,”” FMC director of product management, client statements and reporting Rick Sands said of winning the Pinnacle award. “”I think it’s a recognition of the two companies’ ability to work together.””

Syntax senior vice-president Gary Shaffran said winning the award, given the sales criteria, is good indicator of success. traded an enterprise resource planning focus for a systems integrator approach in the 1990s, forming a business intelligence practice in 1996.

“”If we weren’t hitting sales targets, that would be a pretty negative message from the marketplace,”” he said.

The Canadian companies all touted the merits of business intelligence as a useful tool in both good and bad economic times. When business is booming, said Langton, business intelligence allows companies to see where revenues are coming from. When business slows, business intelligence can help companies find efficiencies.

Aside from the recognition that comes with winning a Pinnacle award — or four — reseller winners also qualify from maximum discounts from Cognos.

“”Those guys get a little bit of treatment that (other) resellers might not get,”” Jandl said.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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