Buyouts surge among data analysis suppliers

There was further consolidation in the business intelligence software arena last week as Hyperion Solutions agreed to buy query...

There was further consolidation in the business intelligence software arena last week as Hyperion Solutions agreed to buy query and reporting tools maker Brio Software.

The deal between Hyperion and Brio came just days after Business Objects had agreed to acquire Crystal Decisions.

Analysts said the consolidation moves were likely to accelerate as suppliers wanted more complete suites of data analysis products, partly to fend off growing competition from Microsoft.

Such mergers can both help and hurt corporate users, said Current Analysis analyst Mike Schiff. Although the acquisitions may give users a single supplier to deal with in areas such as product support, they could reduce customers' bargaining power by limiting their ability to shop around.

Schiff added that after buyouts, suppliers typically weed out the less successful products they have acquired, which could affect the companies that depend on those technologies.

John Olsen, president and chief operating officer at Business Objects, said there were no plans to phase out any applications or to delay rollouts of new products. He noted that Crystal Decisions' tools are used to design reports for end users, whereas Business Objects' applications are tailored for power users who want to format their own queries and do extensive slicing and dicing of data.

A spokeswoman for Hyperion said that the company will disclose more information about its product plans in the coming weeks, although she noted that Hyperion's own applications will remain intact. However, Hyperion did say that it was dropping a reseller deal with Crystal Decisions and will immediately start offering Brio's tools.

Schiff said that Brio, which last week reported a first-quarter loss of $2.1m on revenue of $24.8m, was financially troubled and in need of rescue. Crystal Decisions is in much better financial shape, he noted.

Marc L Songini writes for Computerworld

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