Actuate makes latest BI buy

The reporting tools maker is buying data integration vendor Nimble Technology. The deal is the third to hit the consolidating business intelligence space in as many weeks.

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More consolidation hit the business intelligence sector today when San Francisco-based reporting tools maker Actuate Corp. announced it is acquiring data integration vendor Nimble Technology Inc., Seattle.

The move comes on the heels of two other recent acquisitions. On July 24, performance management specialist Hyperion Solutions Corp. announced it had acquired Brio Software Inc., a maker of reporting software, for $142 million in cash and stock. That came less than a week after Business Objects SA announced its proposed all-stock purchase of reporting and analytics vendor Crystal Decisions Inc. for $820 million.

The Actuate deal is likely smaller in scale but, because Nimble is privately held, Actuate officials declined to comment on the terms of the acquisition. Nimble's Web site is now jointly branded with Actuate's name and logo.

Nobby Akiha, vice president of marketing for Actuate, said Nimble's enterprise information integration (EII) software will allow Actuate to work with a number of different sources, including XML, legacy and even unstructured data.

Actuate will incorporate Nimble's software into its own and will no longer sell Nimble's standalone software, Akiha said.

"It's in line with key parts of our platform to access data from other databases, put it together and put it out to a large number of users," Akiha said. "This does highlight the difference in approach that we have to the market. Our systems provide a platform scalable enough to get information out to everyone who needs it, whether it is inside or outside [the] firewall."

Actuate's scalable, server-based platforms allow customers to quickly integrate data from diverse sources at lower costs, Akiha said, adding that Nimble's technology will allow Actuate to expand on this flexibility. A key is moving toward real-time data presentation, according to Akiha.

"This is deinitely a technology-driven acquisition," said Phil Russom, analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research. "Actuate is not really interested in Nimble's customers. Actuate is certainly inerested in Nimble's technology."

While Actuate has an enterprise reporting platform, Nimble's platform provides faster performance and a wider variety of options, Russom said.

"That's what Actuate is up to," Russom said. "They need these highly improved methods that an EEI platform like Nimble can bring. The EEI capabilities from Nimble will be folded into Acutate's integration platform. Eventually, Nimble's integration server will cease to exist."

In related news, Actuate announced today a program designed to help it capitalize on some of the industry consolidation. It will provide financial incentives for customers of Brio, Business Objects and Crystal Decisions to move to Actuate's platform.

Actuate, with 511 employees, reported revenue of $25.5 million in the first quarter of 2003 and has international operations in Singapore, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland and the U.K. Customers include American Express, Johnson & Johnson and AOL Time Warner.

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