Business Objects Buys Cartesis

Business Objects just announced its intention to purchase Cartesis, a leading finance and performance management company. The purchase had been a rumored for some time.

I attended the presentation of Crispin Read, Cartesis’ CMO and a former (and now future) colleague, at the Gartner BI Conference in London earlier this year. The talk was entitled “From BI to Performance Management“, and focused on the premise that BI has not delivered on the promise of financial performance management because “it’s like having traffic lights without color.” In other words, there’s no point in measurement unless the correct targets have been defined using a robust, financially-focused performance management system.

For me, the highlights of the aquisition are the industrial-strength financial consolidation and intercompany reconciliation tools that will boost Business Objects’ position with CFOs of large organizations, and Cartesis’ leadership role in XBRL publishing and benchmarking.

XBRL is a open format for reporting financial information. A key part of BI 2.0 will be the ability to easily augment internal analysis with outside figures, and Cartesis provides their customers with:

“a unique solution to benchmark their own actual and financial forecast figures with competitive and peer-group data for externally focused business performance management.”

According to research commissioned by Cartesis last year, 84% of companies recognize the importance of benchmarking financial performance, but only 31% do so. Cartesis has a partnership with Edgar Online, which provides information from US company reports using XBRL, to make it easy to “mashup” internal and external financial data.

Culturally, the companies should be a good fit. Cartesis is also a “transnational organization”, headquartered in Paris but with a mix of European and US values. The CEO, Didier Benchimol, is French with extensive experience of the international software market, and many of the sales and marketing staff are former employees of Business Objects.