Business Objects SA has integrated data visualization tools it acquired last year to its XI Release 2 business intelligence platform to make its software more attractive to business users.
Crystal Xcelsius Viewer lets users create interactive graphs, charts and presentations from complex BI data sets. The visualizations are live; i.e. they are directly connected to underlying data sources to ensure freshness.
The software taps into the native security scheme of XI and web services enablement to maintain connectivity between visualizations and source data.
Business Objects acquired the Xcelsius technology through its $40m purchase of San Diego, California-based Infommersion Inc last November. Infommersion’s interactive data visualization and presentation software helps business users manipulate and share data graphically in PowerPoint presentations, Acrobat PDF documents and Web formats.
One the key target applications for the technology is what-if analysis. For example, customers can link Xcelsius Viewer with Business Objects’ Dashboard Management application to monitor performance and visually perform what-if scenarios based on new data criteria.
We’ve taken a lot of Xcelsius’ visual analytics capabilities and OEM’d them into Dashboard Manager to connect to metrics data, said Steve Woolidge, director of product marketing for performance management products at Business Objects.
Dashboard manager comes with a range of different statistical functions like linear regressions and forecasting. Users can now take a series of metrics and visually tweak the model parameters using sliders directly in the user interface.
Woolidge explained that an ideal use case scenario would be a senior manager using a PowerPoint presentation to sell a budget at a meeting. Often people will say they don’t believe the assumption on growth rates. You can now adjust these on the fly in presentations.
Xcelsius Viewer was previously offered as a standalone desktop and workgroup application that could be pointed at XI data.
What Business Objects has done now is to provide direct data connectivity and security to XI.
The desktop and workgroup products had no packaged data connectivity. Now the Flash files [that Xcelsius uses] can be secured and managed in the XI repository for user access rights, Woolidge said.
Integrating Xcelsius into XI is part of a continued strategy by Business Objects to reach out to more and more business users. Industry research shows that 85% of corporate IT users are not savvy using BI query and analysis tools.
The company has also introduced novel interfaces like Intelligent Question, a structured query interface, and Live Office connections that embeds BI into desktop applications like Power Point and Excel and Web pages.
We’re now offering a beautiful front-end sitting on top of a secure BI platform.
Viewer is sold as an add-on that works exclusively with XI Release 2 for $300 per user, or $48,500 per CPU.