Hyperion sets out its BPM stall

The Business Intelligence (BI) market, because of the way different vendors have interpreted it, can seem all things to all men. There are so many facets – query, reporting, data mining, analytics and so on – that there is barely a major vendor which cannot claim leadership in one sector or other.

Hyperion, alongside Cognos, Business Objects, MicroStrategy and SAS is a giant in the field. While analyst house IDC may put it fourth in the BI market, Hyperion very proudly claims to be number one in Business Process Management (BPM), which focuses more on strategic planning and forecasting. Nigel Pendse, author of the OLAP report states: "The BPM buzzword may or may not remain popular for long, but Hyperion is making the most of it while it lasts."

On one hand this looks suspiciously like clutching at straws – Hyperion is losing market share in other, quickly-growing markets – on the other, it makes sense to ensure help define a new strata in order to ensure leadership of it.

Hyperion, as we know it today, was formed by two mergers, first the reverse takeover by the smaller Arbor Software and then, in 2003 with Brio. While the Arbor deal was beset by bad management and problems deriving from incompatible west and east coast cultures, the takeover of Brio has progressed reasonably smoothly. Now, Hyperion has its leadership settled and working together. In 2002 the fifth CMO in three and a half years, Nazhin Zarghamee, adopted BPM as the umbrella under which Hyperion would operate.

Since BPM puts more emphasis on strategy, Hyperion hopes it will increase its exposure amongst CEOs. Its strength in financial reporting means it is popular with CFOs, but according to analysts at Gartner, Hyperion's main challenge is to have customers adopt the complete CRM and BI suite, not just parts of it." The recent launch of its Applications Suite 4 aims to encourage users to broaden their usage by integrating planning, reporting, management and analytical applications with a Microsoft Office style interface. The move is supported by Gartner research VP Lee Geishecker who warned that "mixing and matching different software technologies could be a costly exercise requiring extensive integration." Consolidation of vendors both in terms of M&A activity and on the customers' part is thus a major theme in the BI market.

However, one of Hyperion's problems is that in sectors such as online analytical processing (OLAP) which have vast potential for growth, it is losing market share. Hyperion lost its lead to Microsoft in 2002, a problem compounded by the fact OLAP revenues are expected to grow by around 15% per year over the next three years. Apart from being cheap and also pretty reliable, Microsoft has a healthier relationship with its partners, in that it does not tend to compete with their applications whereas Hyperion sees itself as a builder of its own applications on Essbase, its BI platform.

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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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