This week's announcement of a joint venture between business intelligence vendor Business Objects and one of the world's leading sources for financial data, Thomson Financial, goes well beyond a simple partnership deal, say industry analysts.
"We are witnessing the convergence of SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions along with industry-specific applications," according to Liz Herbert, senior analyst with Forrester Research.
The deal will bundle Thomson Financial business data that is typically used by market analysts and securities specialists with Business Objects reporting, analytics, and dashboard capabilities in prepackaged solutions targeted at particular user profiles.
According to Herbert, two major gaps in SaaS technology up until now have been in the areas of reporting and analytics and in the ability to deliver vertical solutions for specific industries, such as financial services.
"This is closure," said Herbert.
Like all Internet-based solutions, the partnership also adds an element of democratisation to the use of business intelligence, according to Steve Lucas, vice president of On Demand Business unit at Business Objects.
"This solution will make Thomson data universal to anyone who needs this," said Lucas. Up until now Thomson data was limited to a small number of specialists who knew how to access and interpret the data.
The SaaS solution is built around profiles of different types knowledge workers based on job function who have a need to consume such reports.
Although most of the content will come in the form of pre-built dashboards, reports, and analyses, Lucas said the company is also working to build web services so that users can design their own custom reports and dashboards.
The SaaS solution has the advantage of allowing users to combine what is happening inside the firewall, CRM or ERP data, with financial data from outside the firewall, such as sales data on leading competitors. External data often plays key role in how a company forecasts and budgets, said Lucas.
General availability is due in the third quarter.