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New BI app reports to Office

Business Objects' latest reporting tool lets users embed live BI reports into Microsoft Office apps.

When it comes to boosting user adoption, teaming up with Redmond is seldom a bad idea. After all, Microsoft makes the most popular desktop applications in the world.

Business Objects SA, the French business intelligence vendor, is hoping to tap into that popularity. On Monday it launched Crystal Enterprise Live Office, software that allows users to embed live business intelligence (BI) reports and reporting components into Microsoft Office applications.

Live reports and data from Crystal Enterprise can be embedded into the 2000, 2002 and 2003 versions of Microsoft Office, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.

Jaylene Crick, Business Objects' senior product marketing manager, described the release as a way to extend BI to the business user, a growing industry trend.

"It provides people with a very easy way to embed accurate, live data to spreadsheets," Crick said.

Users can select and connect to data they need through an integrated wizard and navigation bar within Microsoft Office.

Live Office leverages security features from Crystal Enterprise to allow organizations to share sensitive reports and data as needed. For example, a user viewing a PowerPoint presentation would be asked to log on to Crystal Enterprise. If the presentation had data that the user didn't have access to, that data would be displayed as a gray area, Crick said.

Users can share corporate files with others inside and outside the organization through Microsoft SharePoint.

In addition to simplifying BI for the business user and allowing it to be used collaboratively, the application provides accurate data in real time from Crystal Enterprise. For example, a user presiding over a meeting can simply right click on a set of data to get the newest numbers from the BI application. Or tables could be quickly changed in midpresentation in response to "what if" scenarios.

Live Office will ship in mid-June. It is included in Crystal Enterprise Premium Edition and will be available as an add-on to the Professional Edition. Pricing was not released.

The release is the result of Business Objects' acquisition of Crystal Decisions and its reporting technology in December 2003.

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