May 22, 2007

Business Objects is acquiring Inxight!

The press conference is a little ways off, but the news has come across the wire that Business Objects is acquiring text analytics/text mining vendor Inxight.

Quick context on Business Objects: BOBJ is a pioneer — perhaps THE pioneer — of modern business intelligence. Recently it has gone on an acquisition-heavy bulking-up strategy. There is no assumption that ALL its pieces will fit into one seamless whole. For large enterprises, it is increasing its professional services emphasis (as a complement to new license sales, not a replacement for them).

Quick context on Inxight: Inxight spun off from Xerox PARC with all sorts of cool text-related technologies. But while it’s somewhat of a competitor in generic text mining, visualization, and so on, the one market where it has really succeeded is in OEM software for filtering and tokenization, serving search and text mining vendors alike.

Quick historical comment: There have been a couple of other cases in which universal subsystem OEMs have been acquired. Generally, they’ve just pedaled along doing their own thing. Verity bought the top filter supplier of its day (pre-Inxight), and so far as I could tell the merger neither hurt nor helped either part of the company. And the same is true now that Verity is part of Autonomy. DataDirect, the dominant vendor of ODBC and JDBC drivers, has been twice independent and twice owned by a big company, and all through that has just tootled along serenely independent in North Carolina.

Quick strategic comment: Business Objects has seemed to me to “get it” about text analytics much more than other traditional BI leaders, most particularly the screwed-up Cognos. (With all apologies to my friends and clients at SAS, they are not a “traditional BI leader”.) Even Oracle, despite having lots of pieces in house, never seems to pull them together. That said, this understanding is recent and probably still shallow, so they could still screw the acquisition up. Inxight’s gravitas — spun off from the legendary Xerox research, etc. — should actually help a lot.

Next shoes to drop? Well, ClearForest and Inxight are now gone. Attensity has a close partnership with Business Objects. Temis is French, like Business Objects, is unsurpisingly run by a former BOBJ exec, and is based on the same Xerox antecedents as Inxight. It would not be surprising to see the acquisitive BOBJ wind up with one of those, or even both as they aren’t really that redundant. As for other consolidation, Clarabridge’s architectural bet makes them a very good fit for their old buddies at Microstrategy.

Having commented like that, let me hasten to say that as an old stock analyst, I would NOT be mentioning any of this if I in fact had any glimmer of evidence about any deals. This is STRICTLY generic speculation.

OK. That’s it for now. More perhaps after the press conference.

EDIT: Whoops. I thought the press conference was today. Now I think it’s more likely tomorrow.

FURTHER EDIT: Actually, it was today, notwithstanding that the email said “tomorrow.” But they sent the phone information out late, so I wound up giving up on them and only got on the call for the last part of the last question.

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One Response to “Business Objects is acquiring Inxight!”

  1. Text Technologies»Blog Archive » (A little) more on Business Objects/Inxight on May 23rd, 2007 6:39 am

    […] missing what seems to have been an uninformative press conference anyway, I hooked up later with the […]

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