Business Objects Demystifies Promotions for Packaged-Goods Players

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Business Objects aims to unfrazzle consumer packaged-goods execs by delivering analytics that spell out what's going on with all the money they're spending on trade promotions.

Business Objects on Feb. 7 will help to unfrazzle consumer packaged-goods execs by delivering analytics that spell out what's going on with all the money they're spending on trade promotions.

BusinessObjects Trade Promotion Effectiveness Analytics will be backed up by the release of industry-focused BusinessObjects XI Release 2 analytic applications, which run on the company's BI (business intelligence) platform and deliver performance management dashboards, scorecards and analytics targeted to specific vertical markets.

The packaged-goods applications are designed to help manufacturers understand the impact of trade promotions and to better evaluate their target customers.

They're designed to give insight into how promotional funds are being spent, which customers are participating, which promotions bring in the most profit and how performance through various channels compares.

This is the most recent delivery of a planned string of vertical market-focused analytics packages from Business Objects.

In November, the company rolled out planning and budgeting analytics for retail.

Darren Cunningham, director of product marketing, said that we can expect more releases focused on government and on the financial services industry.

Feeding into that will be technology Business Objects acquired when it bought SRC Software.

SRC's applications target planning, budgeting, forecasting, reporting and scorecarding, across both departments and vertical industries, including financial planning, retail, health care, hospitality, insurance and manufacturing.

The company is also seeing uptake in health care, Cunningham said, making it an area Business Objects will target for a release later in the year.

The call for vertical industry-focused analytics applications is indicative of a trend in which customers are finding BI to be a competitive advantage, Cunningham said.

"We're now finding … customers say to us, 'Who else has done this in my industry? What are they doing?'" he said. "It's become a competitive differentiator."

The consumer packaged goods release incorporates customer feedback that targeted simplified implementation and customization.

The analytics feature role-based dashboards to provide human resources, marketing, sales or finance executives to access information relevant to their jobs.

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Sales execs, for example, can use dashboards to see and analyze sales in real time.

Business Objects also packs in an encyclopedia with industry-focused business terms used in reports, dashboards or scorecards.

Thus, a customer who checks out a graphic that displays the profitability of a given campaign can then open up the encyclopedia, which can explain to him or her what the analytic is showing and can guide the user to further analysis, such as doing a comparison of other campaigns run in the past, for example.

One customer using the packaged-goods analytical applications is Rent-A-Center.

"We are using analytic applications from Business Objects to drive insight through key business segments within the company, including customers, products and services, supply chain, human resources and finance," said Tony Fuller, CIO of Rent-A-Center, in a statement.

"Currently, we have almost 3,000 stores in North America, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Along with the growth of our business, the amount of data we were gathering grew exponentially, and we needed a more efficient way to work through all the information.

"Business Objects analytic applications allow us to turn all this information into an asset that can help us improve our company performance and continue to grow as an intelligent enterprise."

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Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on eWEEK.com, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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