Small vendors specialize to compete in BI

Standalone operator says specialization chance to differentiate against software giants pushing strongly into business intelligence space.

HANNOVER--Amid the BI (business intelligence) push from software giants, a smaller BI vendor says it is standing firm through specialization.

Speaking to ZDNet Asia at the company's CeBIT booth on Tuesday, LucaNet consultant Ramon Munoz Gonzalez said the company is targeting businesses through specialization in legal consolidation tools.

Gonzalez explained that the process of legal consolidation is a reporting audit function mandated by the German government, and companies need to perform this to comply with the law.

The 10-year-old company's intimate knowledge and focus on this area are its differentiation, he said, which has allowed it to target companies across industries.

Furthermore, smaller companies may be intimidated by the costs involved with some of the larger software vendors, such as SAP, he said.

LucaNet targets SMBs (small and midsize businesses), and makes its tools compatible with ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems and databases from some of the bigger boys--namely, Microsoft and SAP--to allow smaller companies to plug into existing systems, without embarking on larger implementations, said Gonzalez.

But the software giants, which offer the gamut of IT backend software, tout ease of integration across their portfolios.

In an interview with ZDNet Asia, SAP platforms solutions sales specialist, Oliver Hillermeier, said standalone BI vendors cannot guarantee tight integration with existing systems because these are out of their control.

Standalone BI implementations also have to start the data extraction process within customers' databases from scratch. On the other hand, a BI tool from an ERP vendor can provide the reporting and analysis as combined content through the front end, said Hillermeier.

SAP had 24 percent of the BI market last year with its Business Objects acquisition, according to Gartner figures.

The company is also making BI more accessible to more workers through customized reports for different job functions, said the SAP executive.

"The openness and usability of our reports have been much improved than what we offered before, and that allows us to reach more workers," he said.

SAP, in previous interviews with ZDNet Asia, said BI adoption is providing an inroad for SAP into organizations.

In an interview last month, SAP also said BI will be the fastest-moving segment for the company in the Asia-Pacific region, with BI revenues contributing to half of the company's earnings in the region.

Fellow German software giant, Software AG, has also been on a push to make its products more accessible to users. In a press conference yesterday, its CEO expounded the company's direction to take its software to more office workers down the chain, through user-friendly dashboards and displays.

In an IBM poll last October, 87 percent of CIOs in Southeast Asia said BI and analytics were a top priority for them, and saw the use of these tools as a crucial way to enhance competitive value for their organizations.

Victoria Ho of ZDNet Asia reported from the CeBIT technology show in Hannover, Germany.


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