Brio fights to rekindle its fortunes

The last year has been little short of disastrous for Brio Software. Sales volumes have dwindled to a third of 2001 levels and the company has run dangerously short of cash. Now, a new management is fighting to re-invigorate the company.


Company: Brio Software

Products: Brio Intelligence Reports, Portal, Metrics Builder and Brio Reports

Top executive: Craig Brennan

HQ: Santa Clara, California

Company status: Publicly listed on Nasdaq

Key financials: Brio’s revenues fell by 26.5% to £111.4 million in the year to the end of March 2002. Net losses rose to $25.7 million from $9.7 million in fiscal 2001.

Key competitors: Business Objects, Cognos, Information Builders, Actuate

Infoconomy comment: Brio needs to rekindle its sales but is running out of time. Analysts doubt whether the company has sufficient development resources to allow it to get back in the race against arch rivals Cognos and Business Objects.


Brio’s problems began in August 1999 with its $270 million acquisition of reporting software vendor SQRIBE. The two companies were of equal size and Brio took far too long to integrate the products and the people, says Nigel Pendse, Business Intelligence analyst and author of The OLAP Report.

As a result, new product development atrophied and Brio’s Business Performance Suite software – now based around the query and analysis suite Brio Intelligence, Brio Portal and Brio Reports – fell behind rival offerings from Cognos, Business Objects and Actuate.

This was compounded by the reaction of the Brio board. As sales growth stalled, Brio’s founders – who had always cultivated a technology-centric, employee-focused company – were elbowed out and replaced by more commercially-minded executives, led by former Oracle vice president Craig Brennan.

“[It was] a rude shock to people used to a more human style. It alienated many who were previously loyal to the Brio ecosystem. And customers were no longer willing to put up with increasingly ragged support and products that weren’t progressing,” says Pendse. All that is now being solved, the new managers say.

The company’s focus has shifted from query and analysis to business performance. And aside from adding better security features to Brio Intelligence and the ability to work with SAP’s Business Warehouse and Hyperion’s Essbase analysis platform, in May 2002, the company released Brio Metrics Builder 7. This is an analytic application used to identify business performance problems. The software can be used with Brio’s Intelligence suite or alongside tools from Cognos and Business Objects.

Brio’s executives believe they have the technology and the strategy to fix the company’s problems. If they don’t, it will lose its independence.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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