Business Objects SA and IBM Corp have inked a new strategic alliance that brings a sharper global focus to its past business intelligence partnership.
Business Objects, which maintains dual headquarters in Paris, France and San Jose, California, said the new global agreement will help to extend the reach of its business intelligence software into new and emerging markets by tapping into IBM’s vast channels.
The strategic alliance has many elements, including putting in place a dedicated and commissioned sales team for global coverage and a joint channel commitment to address the mid-market customers.
The agreement also calls for expanded joint industry solutions development, targeting retail, financial services, healthcare, government and life sciences, and tighter product integration between Business Objects and IBM technologies, including IBM’s new Information Server platform.
Both companies pledge to ramp up their investments in both these areas and engage in joint marketing, technical and sales support across a range of IBM software and hardware products including its WebSphere, Lotus, Rational and Tivoli lines. They will also mutually invest in expanding IBM’s Business Objects Center of Competency located in Vancouver, Canada that already has 300 trained and certified Business Objects software engineers.
Additionally, Business Objects will also work closely with IBM’s Global Services division to help joint customers migrate over to its new XI Release 2 BI platform. Both companies are working on a global migration factory to make migration as smooth and as painless as possible for prospective XI customers.
Business Objects and IBM have been close partners for over 12 years, allying around a pair of ISV Advantage agreements and reseller deals.The two companies share around 5,000 joint customers, which now stand to benefit from simpler implementations and strengthened value propositions with joint technologies and tighter integration.
Business objects and IBM will also benefit from earlier cooperation in sales and implementation cycles, and better alignment with solutions plays around areas like risk management.
Allen Pancoast, vice president of IBM alliance at Business Objects, called the strategic agreement a natural extension to how both companies had done businesses in the past.
But he noted that in the past the partnership had been broken up various pieces from both a product and industry perspective. Our new strategic alliance changes that by pulling them into a global relationship that cuts across industries and encompasses all the IBM brands.
He added that Business Objects could use IBM’s global reach to expand into emerging markets like China, Eastern Europe and Latin America.
Pancoast is also particularly excited about the mid-market opportunities which he sees as being an untapped area of opportunity for BI. We already have a heavy penetration in mid-market with our Crystal products, he said. And IBM has been around the mid-market for decades. You can expect to see us jointly develop and deliver new solutions for mid-market in the next three to six months.
Jay Ennesser, vice president of cross industry alliances for IBM Global Solutions, called the strategic tie-up a natural progression for what he sees as a very hot market. Depending on whose numbers you read BI is estimated as a $65-85bn market. It’s clearly important to IBM and our investment strategy and we need to forge tighter relationships with top BI players.
When you look at the different things Business Objects and IBM had been doing in the past our relationship was fragmented and across several different organizations. It now makes sense to take the investments we’ve already made and step it up another notch by giving it a global focus, he said. The strategic agreement we’re putting in place will allow use to better link our technologies and strengthen IBM’s services play.
Ennesser also dismissed suggestions that Business Objects deeper push into services would sour the relationship. I expect every ISV that IBM partners with to have a healthy services business; to help us manage the entry of customers into the market, provide partners like us with linkages to new technologies like migration XI and get feedback from the field into product development.
Pancoast agreed saying that Business Objects’ recent services push had never been designed to be in conflict with systems integrator partners like IBM. Our technical services fill in the gaps with special expertise in particular areas, he said.
Of course, IBM’s alliance with Business Objects is by no means exclusive. But what this new strategic alliance does is bring it up to par with relationships that IBM holds with BI rivals Cognos Inc and SAS Institute Inc. We’re bringing [Business Objects] to the same strategic level. They’re now one of three key partners for IBM in the BI space, Ennesser said.
The announcement comes before Business Objects annual user conference that kicks off in San Francisco next week.