Business Objects calls itself the world’s leading business intelligence (BI) software company, a claim that Oracle plans to challenge following its Hyperion, Siebel, and Sunopsys acquisitions. However, Business Objects has launched a new marketing campaign that could help it weather whatever Oracle and other BI vendors throw at it. That campaign should be of interest to JD Edwards customers, as most of them own Business Objects products.

Most EnterpriseOne and World customers know Business Objects as the vendor behind Crystal Reports, a reporting tool that comes bundled with JD Edwards applications. The full scope of what Business Objects offers, and for that matter what BI does, is something that many people in the JD Edwards community have never had the chance to fully understand. The launch of a major new marketing campaign by Business Objects, aimed at shedding some light on the BI subject, is thus of potential interest to the JD Edwards community. A short browse through the vendor’s refreshed web site can thus be an eye-opening experience.

Business Objects’ high-profile campaign represents a radical shift in the way it communicates with the market. The starting point is a new slogan: LET THERE BE LIGHT. Its simplicity and clarity underscores what makes this campaign unique – a major IT vendor is telling its story using understandable business language.

The look and feel of Business Objects’ web site has been modernized and it is now loaded with video clips of executives and experts talking about the use of BI to make organizations more effective. A key part of the campaign is the introduction of the concept of Collective Intelligence. It names the phenomenon where diverse groups of people use emerging technologies to work together to solve complex problems often without meeting or even knowing each other. Wikipedia and the Open Source movement are the most obvious examples of the use of Collective Intelligence.

Business Objects has offered to enhance the Collective Intelligence experience by making its own leading-edge data analysis software available to those undertaking community development efforts. This is being done through a free web-based service called Insight. Information about this unique offering is available at www.insight.businessobjects.com.

Snazzy marketing campaigns usually either make us yawn or dismissively laugh them off. This one is different because behind the graphics, video, and clever slogans, something important is happening. Business Objects is making a serious and effective effort to shape the way the industry thinks and talks about Business Intelligence. The goal is nothing less than providing thought leadership for BI, something the market desperately needs.

Other BI vendors, including Oracle, are far too caught up in the technical mechanics of putting the necessary software plumbing in place. Almost all of the marketing done by these vendors is aimed at technicians using jargon-intensive language. Those that do not “see the light” and follow Business Objects’ lead face the risk of being overlooked by decision makers who do not have the time to figure out what they are saying.

A strong case can be made that BI is the “next big thing” in IT. Few organizations do a good job of turning the massive amount of data that flows continuously through their applications (including JD Edwards) into highly effective decisions. For the moment, Business Objects has taken the high ground by starting to explain to decision makers how BI meets this need. Oracle and the other vendors that aspire to BI leadership need to do equally good jobs of bringing their stories to the market.

What do you think of Business Objects’ new campaign? Feel free to leave us your thoughts in the comment box below. We also welcome you to check out RapidDecision, our own BI solution that is optimized for JD Edwards applications.