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Business Objects buys ALG

Debunking the debunker

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Comment Business Objects is buying ALG, which may be better known to some readers as Armstrong-Laing (I never quite understood the rationale behind changing the name, especially as ALG was likely to be confused with ASG but that's another story). Anyway, ALG is one of the leaders in the market for activity-based costing (ABC) and management (ABM). Indeed, it was probably the leading pure play vendor in this field.

So, does this acquisition make sense from Business Objects point of view? In my view this is clear cut. The company wants to further extend its penetration of the enterprise/business/corporate performance management space, which it entered with its acquisition of SRC last year, and it sees the addition of ABC/ABM as complementary technology that will help the company to push deeper into this market. Of course, there will be some integration to do but after the exemplary manner in which Business Objects achieved the integration of Crystal, I am sanguine about its capabilities with respect to ALG and SRC.

So, I think this is a very sensible move and puts Business Objects one up on Cognos, which is reliant on partners for this sort of functionality. However, just because I think this, it doesn't mean that everybody does. In particular, Cartesis seems to be very upset about it.

Now, regular readers will know that one of the things I abhor most about vendors is when they make adverse comments about their competitors (particularly when I don't agree with them anyway). Moreover, I have written about this on more than one occasion. So you can imagine my surprise at receiving a debunking email from Cartesis's PR agency that attacked this acquisition, stating that it didn't understand Business Objects' strategy and couldn't understand what Business Objects could possibly want with ALG. In effect, the email suggested that Business Objects should stick to the BI stuff (for which Cartesis conceded that it held Business Objects in high regard) that it's most well known for and leave performance management to the likes of Cartesis who know what they are doing.

Let's spell this out simply: if Cartesis is right then Business Objects has just blown a load of money and the company won't get any leverage out of the acquisition. In which case, that must be good for Cartesis. This, of course, suggests that Cartesis should applaud its rival's desire to waste money and it should therefore put out a congratulatory email to encourage Business Objects to pursue further fantasies that can only damage Business Objects' reputation while, by comparison, enhancing that of Cartesis.

But has Cartesis followed this line of logic? No. So what can we conclude? Actually, that this purchase scares Cartesis; that it doesn't like it; that it sees it as a threat. Which means that they are plain daft to draw attention to that fact. Of course, they may be able to pull the wool over some people's eyes but if they want to try this sort of stunt again in the future then they would do better to qualify me out.

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