SAP's Business Objects Problems Go Beyond Gartner's Quadrant

Ann All

Gartner has long displeased vendors who don't land in prime spots on its Magic Quadrant. ZL Technologies even sued Gartner in October, claiming paying clients received favorable treatment during the analyst company's quadrant selection process. (The suit was dismissed a month later.)


Admittedly, I am not the most connected writer in business technology publishing. I confess I hadn't even heard of ZL Technologies before the suit was filed. But now mega-vendor SAP is taking public umbrage with part of the Magic Quadrant assessment for BusinessObjects, its business intelligence product.


As InformationWeek reports, SAP/BusinessObjects was ranked second to IBM in Gartner's "completeness of vision" axis, but behind a bunch of other vendors (Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, SAS, and Microstrategy, to be exact) for its "ability to execute." SAP was so peeved it commissioned a blind survey of 24 CIOs, conducted by the Gerson Lehrman Group.


But maybe SAP protesteth too much? Strativa Managing Partner Frank Scavo, writing on his The Enterprise System Spectator blog, says SAP's complaint simply brings more attention to the legitimate issue of a badly handled transition for customers of BusinessObjects. the BI specialist SAP acquired in 2007. Executive board member John Schwarz, who oversaw the BusinessObjects business for SAP, just left the company. Uh-oh.


To be fair, both Gartner and Scavo point out that SAP competitors IBM and Oracle suffered transition problems following their acquisitions of BI companies Cognos and Hyperion. But SAP's problems, which IT Business Edge's Loraine Lawson wrote about in the summer of 2008, sound more major than the usual merger-and-acquisition bumps. She cited an InfoWorld report that many BusinessObjects customers did not receive their IDs to access a newly integrated support system. According to the article, SAP lacked e-mail addresses for some customers and had to use regular mail and/or had outdated contact information. As Loraine wrote:

You would think a business intelligence company would keep better records, but apparently you'd be wrong.

Scavo's take on SAP's Gartner complaint:

The fact that BusinessObjects customers are still having support problems -- two years after they found themselves in SAP's customer base -- suggests that SAP should spend less time trying to disprove Gartner's findings and more time getting its own support systems and processes in order.

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