At the SAP Partner Summit in Las Vegas, Business Objects partners expressed optimism about business intelligence opportunities for 2010, though some partners are keeping close tabs on BI moves by Oracle and open source upstarts like Pentaho and Jaspersoft. Here’s the chatter.

SAP acquired Business Objects in 2007. Initially, some Business Objects partners concede, they were concerned by potential SAP channel moves. Fast forward to the present, and many partners at the SAP Partner Summit applaud how SAP is managing Business Objects. A few examples:
  • Pia G. Thompson, managing principal at Xenon Consulting Inc. of Great Neck, N.Y., says SAP regularly polls her for feedback about the company’s partner program. Xenon launched in 1996 and focuses exclusively on Business Objects engagements. Thompson is particularly pleased to hear SAP will allow Business Objects partners to target customers that have up to $1 billion in revenue, and she applauded SAP’s plan to shift 100 percent of small and midsize enterprise sales to the channel.
  • Taylor Courtnay, VP of sales and co-founder of DecisionFirst Technologies, is building out help-desk services in order to start earning recurring maintenance revenue from his customer base. The Atlanta, Ga.-based firm has about 50 employees and is looking to work with fewer customers on deeper, longer-term engagements. “The partner plan we have today far surpasses anything we had 10 years ago,” said Courtnay.
  • Also at the event, SAP vowed to ensure Business Objects supports third-party environments – particularly Oracle and Microsoft settings.

Competitive Stance

Those statements and moves come at a key time for SAP and Business Objects. On the competitive front, SAP and Business Objects continue to face fierce, entrenched rivals like IBM/Cognos, Oracle, MicroStrategy, SAS Institute and Microsoft (among others).

Plus, open source upstarts like Pentaho and Jaspersoft are starting to make noise within the BI market – both within customer settings and across the IT channel. “I’m not saying the open source offerings are as good as Business Objects’ offerings,” said one partner. “But in the past year or so, we’d had to at least develop an answer for potential customers when they ask about Pentaho.”

The bottom line: No doubt, competition in the BI market continues to intensify. Business Objects – and their partners – could have stumbled badly amid SAP’s buyout of the company. But so far, the mood among Business Objects partners attending SAP Partner Summit is upbeat.