Hyperion ramps up BI platform

Partnering is the key strategy and the way business intelligence vendor Hyperion wants to grow its business, executives said at the launch of its Essbase BI platform on Monday.

Patrick Elliott, Hyperion managing director Australia and New Zealand, said, "Partners is the key to our strategy."

The BI platform, an add-on to the Essbase module, will offer a way to align all of a business unit's data in one central repository from siloed business units, he said.

The vendor aims to spread analytics applications throughout the enterprise by making the products easier to use, highly scalable and open, so the products can run on as many existing databases, with as many disparate systems as possible.

But it has tough competition, including industry heavyweight Microsoft, which bundles a similar tool into its SQL server database product.

"We are trying to exploit our beachhead in the financial arena to include other parts of our customers' business," Stephen Imbler, president of Hyperion Solutions, said at the opening of the annual Hyperion user conference in Coolum, Queensland.

That Hyperion recognises its battle against the market's heavy hitters showed in the 'Mission Impossible' style opening spoof -- depicting Oracle, SAP and Microsoft as super villains holding enterprises hostage to use their business intelligence tools -- which lightened the mood at the user conference. However, Imbler said he takes Microsoft seriously as a competitor with a "good product", adding that Hyperion distinguishes itself by being a solution provider, not just a technology provider.

"If we'd gone as a straight technology provider, we'd be dead by now," he said.

Imbler said Hyperion's competitors, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft, are trying to enter the analytics space with value-added products, but bring their own legacy systems into the equation: Oracle's analysis tool runs on an Oracle database, Microsoft runs on SQL server. In contrast, Hyperion is an open application.

"We live in a heterogeneous world in computing; enterprises run on multiple systems and we can't afford a proprietary solution. Openness is the key to our strategy," Imbler said.

Officials at the conference claimed Hyperion has the largest market share in OLAP technology at 20 per cent of the market. The next biggest competitor is Microsoft at 12 per cent.

Hyperion has traditionally offered general ledger analysis tools, and also shaped its product line to handle Web-based CRM and ERP activities. The BI platform, an add-on module to Hyperion's Essbase, provides a central point for end users to get at information produced by corporate ledger, ERP and CRM applications. Business managers and other workers could then use Essbase online analytical processing (OLAP) software to run complex data queries.

"In the past, business intelligence has focused on what was called the ‘analysis gap'. Companies have terabytes of data, BI tools help enterprises get reports from the volumes of data and analyse them. Most use of Essbase has been departmental, amongst business units, but not throughout the entire enterprise," Imbler said.

This has lead to what Imbler called the ‘alignment gap', the gap between departmental analysis and its alignment with business.

As well as aligning business results to avoid stovepipe analysis, Hyperion officials championed modelling and planning. The acronym thrown about at the conference by the vendor was RAMP, which stands for reporting, analysis, modelling and processes.

"In the APAC region, there is a high demand for budgeting and planning. Planning is becoming more important to businesses as they are moving faster every year," said Karl Michael-Mouantri, vice-president Asia Pacific Hyperion.

"Enterprises that want to get value out of the consolidation of data have go to go through the whole RAMP process and be able to model and modify decisions based on timely reports," Imbler said. "Companies need to make decisions faster and faster. Companies that can do this will survive. Those that don't, won't."

Siobhan Chapman travelled as a guest to the Hyperion User conference in Coolum

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