Business Intelligence (BI) software provider Hyperion has introduced the latest version of its main application suite which the company claims brings it closer to the goal of providing the complete range of BI tools required by its customers.
Announced on Monday at the company's Solutions 2005 user conference in New Orleans, Hyperion Application Suite 4 is a package of the company's main software products and includes financial management, planning, strategic finance, performance scorecards, business modelling, a compliance management dashboard and a new workforce planning module.
"Hyperion Applications Suite 4 addresses the frustrations companies face in attempting to link management processes with spreadsheets and tools with differing interfaces, limited information sharing and lack of process flow," said Rich Clayton, vice-president of product marketing for Hyperion. "Applications Suite 4 provides the common look and feel, common reporting and analysis tools, and a single point of maintenance and administration that decreases training costs, increases user adoption and promotes line manager participation."
The company claims that Application Suite 4 includes several new features to help companies comply with legislation such as Sarbanes Oxley by improving audit trails and document links.
BI applications are designed to allow companies to scrutinise their day to day financial and strategic performance by using tools such as scorecards, reports and information portals known as dashboards.
Hyperion, specialises in a branch of BI known as Business Performance Management (BPM) which focuses more on the strategic aspects of BI. Hyperion claims to be more focused on the high-level strategic planning than most of the competition — an area which it claims is much easier for chief executives to see the importance of, compared to the more analytical vision for mainstream BI.
According to research firm IDC, the market for financial/business performance management analytic applications is expected to increase from $1.2bn (£630m) in 2003 to $2.1bn in 2008.
Although Hyperion is focused on BPM, the firm also competes strongly in the mainstream BI arena. BI continues to be one of the more profitable areas in a largely flat enterprise software market with vendors such as Business Objects claiming returns on implementations of its applications of up to 400 percent.
But despite the potential benefits of BI, it is still a relatively immature and fragmented market with up to a hundred vendors competing for market share and offering overlapping applications.
The concept of a completely integrated set of tools, which meet all a company's business analytic needs, is a vision that all the BI providers are trying to claim they can provide but so far no-one company has achieved that goal, according to analyst Gartner.
Speaking at the analyst firm's recent BI conference, Gartner vice-president Howard Dresner, said that despite claims to the contrary, no one vendor can provide all the sophisticated BI applications that a large company will ultimately require.
"There is a lot happening around convergence of application sets with vendors claiming 'We do everything.' The reality is that they don't do it all and if they claim to do everything then they probably do one thing very poorly," he said.
But despite warning companies that no one BI provider can do it all at present, organisations looking to get the most from the tools should look to reduce the number of different BI vendor's applications they use according to analysts. " People need to realise that mixing and matching different software technologies could be a costly exercise requiring extensive integration," said Lee Geishecker, research vice-president with analyst Gartner.