(Updated with additional analyst comment and links - Sunday, Feb. 27)

February 23, 2011 – SAP showcased the first sweeping updates in three years to its business analytics portfolio BusinessObjects, including enhanced mobile and social capabilities, an in-memory addition and increased analytics for specific industries.

The new version of BusinessObjects 4.0 contains full integration with SAP’s enterprise information management and governance, risk and compliance products, as well as updates that coincide with the company’s revamp of its BI offerings. Enhancements to BusinessObjects 4.0 include in-memory computing, mobile BI on any device, and deepened business and social data text analysis capabilities in the new release, according to an SAP news release. SAP also announced the release of related BusinessObjects software for data source consolidation, end-user data analysis and insight into the data surrounding specific events.

SAP took over the company BusinessObjects SA and its flagship namesake BI and analytics platform through a nearly $7 billion acquisition in 2008. Outside of minor updates and the addition of industry-specific analytics applications last year, SAP has not made a major updated release of Business Objects since the acquisition. SAP rolled out the changes and announced the immediate availability of BusinessObjects 4.0 at a press event today in New York City.  

As part of the release, SAP updated applications for SAP StreamWork, SAP Crystal Reports, SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards and SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence. The German BI and analytics vendor also added six more industry-specific applications for Business Objects as part of the announcement, including fields such as media, energy, health care, risk management and financial planning.

Ventana Research analyst Mark A. Smith said the release, while expected, shows SAP is soundly betting its future on business analytics, particularly in specific industries. R Ray Wang, principal analyst and CEO of Constellation Research, said the specifics outlined by SAP in the release show that “middleware matters in BI platforms.” Now, the nuts and bolts of the release should dictate the future of BusinessObjects compared with the competing business analytics platforms, Wang says.

“The true test of [BusinessObjects 4.0] well be how well SAP integrated the data models, the role based security, the architecture so that customers can move forward on one platform,” says Wang. “Competitors such as IBM Cognos achieved this with Cognos 8. Oracle achieved this with the latest version of OBIEE. SAS has had this for some time. This becomes very important with unstructured data.”

Carl Olofson, IDC application development and deployment research vice president, said in a news release that BusinessObjects updates should enhance capabilities for bringing together BI projects and make a “responsive” enterprise information management environment.

"The latest BI and EIM solutions from SAP are designed to help tackle big data, integrating structured and unstructured data and even information from social networks. New capabilities for event insight and information stewardship bring the benefits of data trustworthiness and process timeliness to customers,” said Olofson.

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