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Nearly one month after acquiring rival Crystal Decisions, Business Objects has crystallized a product integration plan for what has quickly become one of the largest and most channel-friendly business intelligence vendors for the enterprise.

In July, Business Objects, a developer of business intelligence software, announced plans to buy Crystal Decisions, which provides enterprise reporting software and services, in a stock/cash deal estimated at $1.2 billion. The deal, which closed on December 11, 2003, creates a combined company with 24,000 customers and more than $800 million in annual sales, enabling Business Objects to join the ranks of SAS and Teradata as one of the largest business intelligence vendors providing enterprise reporting, ad hoc query and analysis, enterprise performance management, data integration, and analytic applications.

Prior to the acquisition, both Business Objects and Crystal Decisions relied heavily on systems integrators and consultants, who generated between 30 to 40 percent of each company’s revenue, said Lance Walter, director of product marketing at Business Objects. He expects the indirect channel to continue to generate at least one-third of overall revenue for the combined company. Business Objects already has partnerships with more than 1,500 companies, including systems integrators, OEMs, VARs, and distributors.

After announcing its intent to acquire Crystal Decisions, Business Objects created 47 benefit teams with an eye on helping employees, customers, and partners get the most out of the merger, Walter stated. “We know this acquisition will not be successful if joint customers are not happy. We visited more than two dozen customers around the world, some using Business Objects’ and others using Crystal Decisions’ products to help prioritize the right way in which to integrate the product lines,” Walter said.

New directions in the product roadmap

The result of these efforts yielded a three-phase approach, detailing how the two companies’ product lines will integrate over the next few years. One of the main considerations for the product road map was lowering the total cost of ownership. Integrating the infrastructure of the product line will provide one place to manage all users’ metadata, integration points to other systems, customizations, security, and more, according to Business Objects.Phase one of the product integration road map is the product integration pack, which will provide portal integration and common Web-service APIs, and will enable Business Objects metadata, or universes, as an optional data source for Crystal Reports. Business Objects expects to deliver this integration pack in the second quarter of this year. Phase two marks the beginning of the platform-level integration, supporting products from both product lines running on a common infrastructure with common administration. The company expects to deliver platform-level integration by the end of this year. The final phase of integration delivers a superset of all current product functionality on an enhanced, integrated platform, which Business Objects expects to deliver in 2005.

As for installed solutions, Business Objects plans to provide support for all products, depending on the support agreement with each company, through 2007. “Customers have a very long runway. There’s an assumption that we’d migrate Crystal Decisions products into Business Objects, but we are borrowing from Crystal Decisions and combining technologies so customers on either side can upgrade in a smooth fashion,” Walter says.

“Today marks the beginning of a new era in business intelligence,” said Bernard Liautaud, chairman and CEO of Business Objects, in a statement. “We would like to welcome the new employees and customers to the Business Objects family and we look forward to partnering with them as we continue to build a great company that will help our customers achieve stellar results in enterprise performance.”

The company will also launch a global road show next month that will feature live events in 80 cities in 29 countries. As part of this series, the company is hosting a Web seminar on January 14th, 2004. Registration for this seminar is available at, the company will host a global kickoff in Orlando, Florida this week, where over 1,300 attendees are expected to attend for training and education for sales and presales organizations.