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Posts Tagged ‘acquisitions’

Set Analysis – The Good Old Days

June 13th, 2008 3 comments

Old Leather JacketDo you have an old leather jacket? You know the kind. The jacket that reminds you of the good old days. Each time to try it on, it fits so perfectly, you wonder why you don’t get it out more often. It’s tough, it’s cool, it’s unique, and everyone should have one. When I bring it out and show the kids – they love it.

Well, from a software perspective, my “old leather jacket” is Set Analysis. I recently had a situation where a customer needed the capabilities of Set Analysis in their organization to solve some specific reporting needs. I had to dust off the manuals and fire it back up again, but when I did, I wondered why we’d been apart so long.

Set Analysis is a product that was created by Next Action and was acquired by Business Objects way back in October of 1999. Business Objects then launched a company called Ithena, which created analytic application and use set analysis extensively. I provide this background to let you know that the Set Analysis product has been around for a long time and it still brings value today.

Set Analysis provides ability to categorize information. The fancy term for this is called segmentation and is typically market or customers segmentation (although it also can relate to products, employee, etc.) This capability is critical to help organizations understand how the customers and products are affecting their business. We use collections, or sets, to make lists of items to communicate and to manage.

In this Venn diagram you can see there are three sets:

  • Last year’s gold customers
  • Current silver customers
  • Customers at risk

Segmentation products let Set Analysis make it easy to pick where you want to focus. For example the light green area represents the collection of: Last year’s gold customers who are at risk but are not currently silver.

Here is another example related to mortgage providers:

  1. Customers who have a good credit rating
  2. Customers who are paying an above average interest rate
  3. Customers who have not refinanced in the last 24 months.
  4. Customers who have never made a late payment.

Customers who exist in a set are called members.

Next, a mortgage company might take all four collections and market those customers who are members of all four sets with the goal of offering them a more competitive interest rate before they shop their mortgage with a competitor.

So what’s the big deal?

I hear what you are saying. What is the big deal? That’s just a normal query and you are right it is. What is facinating is the ability within a sets engine like Set Analysis to see the trends in these sets over time. Although it’s possible to get a snapshot of these collection members through a standard database query, what you don’t see is changes to the sets over time. For example you need to know:

  1. How many Platinum Customers do I have? 1,000.
  2. If I had 900 last month, did I have 100 join or did I have 200 new customers join and 100 leave?
  3. Where did they go? Did they become Gold? Silver? Are they off the radar?

It’s fascinating to me to see how organizations are so focused on what they sell and yet there is so much value in looking at what you didn’t sell… and who you didn’t sell it to!

In a down economy like we see today, it seems even more important than ever before to understand what your customers are doing.

In the next few posts, I’ll take a little bit of a deeper dive into the product and share a few tricks and tips.

One Step Closer…

November 26th, 2007 No comments

The associated press just announced that the SAP $6.8 billion purchase of Business Objects has cleared their review. They said that the deal, “would not significantly impede effective competition” in the 27-nation EU… this is on top of the top given by the US which I wrote about earlier.

Click here to read the full Associated Press Announcement

It will be interesting to see how things play out now. Here are a list of the recent large BI aquisitions:

  • Oracle buys Hyperion
  • SAP buys Business Objects
  • IBM buys Cognos

It so funny how things work out. At Business Objects we had the “annual” merger rumors, which have occurred every year for the past 3 years. Who would it be? IBM? Microsoft? Oracle? SAP? HP? even Google? Google – Hmmm that was an interesting one.

I never really thought SAP would buy Business Objects. You see, I’m an SAP Champion, which means that I get involved in a lot of the Business Objects deals around SAP in my region. I’ve always perceived that SAP had a strong “we can build it better” mentality and therefore would never buy us. In addition, we would be so expensive. Since they already had a large set of their own BI tools, would they ever admit that they need something that worked with non-SAP data? They had only made very small acquisitions in the past. It seemed pretty unlikely.

Well, obviously things changed, because they forked over $6.8 billion… that’s a tidy little bit. We were pretty excited when we passed the $1B revenue/year mark at the end of 2006…. (meaning our revenues were more than $250K/quarter). Well in looking over SAP’s financials, they make $1B/quarter. Wow! Business Objects is big for a “BI” company, but we would have a long way to go on our own to reach their size. They say the 2nd billion is always the hardest. 🙂

I’d love to share my thoughts about what might happen or what should happen, but I don’t that it would be very valuable to all of you… and besides, they say it’s illegal to talk about the future or express opinions and what could be/should be since we’re still, officially two companies.

Still, I have to say, since joining Crystal Decisions in 2001, it’s been a really fun ride. I came from a smallish company of 120 employees and soon I’ll be working for one of the three largest software companies in the world. This is awesome. God is good.

Categories: In the News Tags: ,

SAP and Business Objects – The Two Shall Become One

November 7th, 2007 No comments

Just moments ago regulators approved the merger between the two companies.

Here is the release from the associated press posted to Forbes:

U.S. antitrust regulators approved SAP AG’s $6.8 billion purchase of Paris-based software company Business Objects SA, the Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday.

Read More

I psyched about the whole Business Objects/SAP merger. I think it’s the perfect next step. Business Objects will be able to retain it’s independent status while providing the best Business Intelligence solutions in the marketplace today. I never thought I’d work for a company that delivers tools a ubiquitous as Crystal Reports and as global as SAP R3/BW.