The UK's SAP and Business Objects user groups are to merge, four years after SAP acquired the business intelligence software firm.
The Business Objects User Group UK (BOUG) will now operate as a standalone group within the UK & Ireland SAP User Group (UKISUG) in much the same way as the SAP Business One group.
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The BOUG's chairman John Weikert becomes a member of the UKISUG's board and the group's members transfer automatically to the UKISUG, taking the number of member organisations to more than 600.
Weikert says the BOUG will continue to provide a community and services to members using SAP Business Objects and run the special interest groups, whether or not they use other SAP products, but being part of the wider SAP user group community will be greatly beneficial.
"Coming together brings benefits on both sides of the table," says Craig Dale, chief executive of the UKISUG.
For the UKISUG, the merger brings in a lot of Business Objects expertise. It will allow members to network with Business Objects users, allowing them a deeper understanding of the Business Objects toolset and how it can benefit their business, he told Computer Weekly.
"We have seen a massive growth in the business intelligence SIG (special interest group) of at least 50% in the past two years and we are seeing BI given more importance in the boardroom," Dale said.
From the BOUG side, the merger will provide administrative support, enabling members to enhance their knowledge and understanding, and give them a say in product development for the first time through working with SUGEN (SAP User Group Executive Network), which has access to the product development side of SAP Business Objects as well as the mainstream SAP products.
Figures released by SUGEN in 2010 revealed that one in three Business Objects customers felt their needs were not being met by SAP, demonstrating a need for greater engagement.
As part of SUGEN, the UKISUG works with SAP to address customer needs. It is one of four global user groups taking part in SAP's customer connection programme of continuous improvement.
Alan Bowling, chairman of the UKISUG said that with Business Objects being SAP's main business intelligence product, the merger makes sense for users of both products.
"SAP has been highlighting the benefits of using Business Objects in combination with the core ERP suite; we'll be working hard to ensure the value of this is demonstrated to, and realised by, our enlarged community," he said.
Timo Elliott, 20-year Business Objects veteran and BI expert, is to be one of the keynote speakers at the UKISUG annual conference in Birmingham for 20 to 22 November.
Elliott's keynote on why many BI projects fail will mark the start of a full Business Objects stream at the conference put together in consultation with the BOUG and aimed at helping users get the most out of the software.
In a bid to welcome all Business Objects users, UKISUG is offering discounted rates for the conference, even if they are not BOUG members.