Business Objects launches next-gen EPM suite for CFOs

Business Objects SA Wednesday released new software that combines EPM (enterprise performance management, BI (business intelligence) and data integration into a comprehensive suite aimed at chief financial officers and business finance managers.

The suite, called BusinessObjects EPM XI, integrates products from several acquisitions the company has made over the last two years, including performance management software from Cartesis, ALG Software and SRC Software. Those products, combined with Business Object’s BI and analytics software, are now integrated on top of the company’s XI data-integration and visualization platform.

All told, the new product allows CFOs to see and share data from various business analysis and EPM applications — such as enterprise reporting, scorecarding, sales and budgeting information — in one software suite, said Marge Breya, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Business Objects on a conference call Wednesday.

Business Objects, which has headquarters in Paris and San Jose, California, remains one of the only BI pure plays still standing, and the company shows little sign of slowing down amid heightened competition. The company moved into the fast-growing EPM space a couple of years ago to keep up with some of its big-name competitors, which include not only traditional BI vendors such as Cognos Inc., but also more diversified applications vendors such as Oracle Corp. and SAP AG.

Even Microsoft Corp. plans to get deeper into the fray next month when it will expand its BI repertoire with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007. However, Business Objects does not, like Oracle, SAP and Microsoft, sell CRM or ERP software, and differentiates itself by positioning its software as independent and able to run on any set of enterprise applications.

EPM XI is the first EPM suite to include profitability analytics, and its ability to make so much analysis and performance information available to financial decision-makers in every part of the enterprise differentiates it from competitors, said Trevor Walker, vice president of product marketing. The suite also includes new software to automate and speed up the process of closing out financial transactions, which is called “the close” and a particular pain point for CFOs, he said.

More information about EPM XI can be found on Business Objects’ Web site. The software is expected to be generally available on Sept. 30.

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