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Business Objects Upgrades Mobile Analytics Tool

Business Objects announced an upgraded version of its BI software that lets mobile users, with a BlackBerry or other handheld device, view reports and initiate business processes based on the data they see.

The product, BusinessObjects Mobile, will allow users of mobile devices to approve discount levels, order more supplies when they learn something is out of stock, or change details of an order, says James Thomas, the vendor's senior director of product marketing.

Business Objects with this release tried to make a more personalized user interface that is optimized for a mobile device and improves on the previous browser-based solution the company offered, Thomas says.

"In a mobile device, it's not about providing everything, it's about providing the right thing that person cares about," he says.

IDC Analyst Henry Morris, who saw a demonstration of the new mobile business intelligence product, says it's a step up from the static interfaces vendors offered in the early days of this type of mobile application.

"The graphics seemed very nice and it was highly interactive," Morris says.

Every major business intelligence vendor provides mobile capability today, says Boris Evelson, an analyst at Forrester Research. "There's a trend to push business intelligence out to the masses, so mobile is just one part of it."

BusinessObjects Mobile will cost Rs 18,000 per user, or less for existing customers who get the product as an add-on to other services from the vendor, according to Thomas.

Business Objects is also announcing upgrades to the business intelligence platform BusinessObjects XI and the vendor's software-as-a-service offering known as crystalreports.com.

The software-as-a-service upgrades are called the Open Data Connector and Universal Web Services Connector, and give users access to data from any on-premise or Web-based application, whether they are inside or outside the company firewall.

The Universal Web Services Connector would allow software-as-a-service vendors to embed business intelligence and reporting into the services they offer, Morris of IDC notes. "You want to differentiate your service, so you want to offer business intelligence as part of the service you offer," he says.

The vendor also is upgrading BusinessObjects XI Release 2 with a "productivity pack" that includes new search capability, an application allowing customers to use business intelligence within Microsoft Office, the ability to design queries and publish them as Web services without writing any code, and other new features.

In addition to the productivity pack, the vendor is combining an existing product known as Xcelsius with BusinessObjects XI to simplify the way people view information, Thomas says. This, for example, allows users to run "what if" scenario analyses without having to manually change the format of data.

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