Information Builders CEO says merger is likely

The recent wave of the business intelligence took another turn Tuesday with one vendor trying to capitalize on market instability and another buying its way into data integration.

One of the established leaders in the BI space, New York-based Information Builders Inc., applauded the round of mergers that includes Business Objects buying Crystal Decisions and Hyperion buying Brio Software. “”We’re delighted there are fewer competitors,”” said Information Builders CEO Gerald Cohen during a conference call. “”When you go into a sales situation with fewer people, it’s always good.

“”It’s very difficult to buy a culture,”” he added. “”When you merge companies together, there’s a very high rate of failure in these situations.””

Cohen, however, said that an Information Builder merger is a very real possibility in the near future.

“”The probability that we’re going to buy someone in the next 12 months is about 90 per cent. The probability that we’re going to be bought by somebody or merged with somebody . . . I’ve got my standard answer: you never know,”” he said.

Another BI vendor, Actuate, has bought Nimble Technology for an undisclosed sum for its data integration software. Nobby Akiha, vice-president of marketing for San Francisco-based Actuate, said the wheels were set in motion long before other merger announcements of recent weeks, but the timing was fortuitous.

Akiha said the Nimble acquisition was a “”buy versus build”” decision and Nimble’s integration tools should be part of a future Actuate release in the next six to nine months.

“”Just the fact that we’re not having to build these technologies from scratch will save us a significant amount of time in terms of deployment. Clearly, that’s become even more important with the recent mergers,”” he said.

Information Builders is working on autonomic, or self-healing, functionality for the next release of its WebFocus software. It is also seeing customers do more live reporting from other sources like SAP and PeopleSoft tools, particularly in the banking and retail sectors. Cohen said Information Builders subsidiary iWay Software, which the company founded in 2001, will be able to handle live reporting needs through its integration tools.

Mergers amongst business intelligence vendors may not be over yet, according to IDC Canada Ltd. analyst Warren Shiau. “”Just the business pressure will lead to a lot of consolidation.”” He added that large enterprise application vendors like Oracle are also adding business intelligence functionality to their products.

Information Builders may be able to capitalize on the market shake-up, said the company’s chief communications officer Michael Corcoran, noting that this is the right time to push forward on a marketing strategy.

“”We do some concern for some of the vendors in terms of their volatility, given what’s occurred in the last week. Our goal is to aggresively increase our market awareness . . . We know that one of our challenges historically has been market awareness,”” he said.


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