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Brio fights to rekindle its fortunes.

The last year has been little short of disastrous for Brio Software. Sales volumes have dwindled to a third of 2001 levels and the company has run dangerously low of cash. Now, say some analysts, the 'for sale' sign has gone up.

Brio's problems began in August 1999 with its $270 million acquisition of reporting software vendor SQRIBE. The two companies were of equal size and Brio took far too long to integrate the products and the people, says analyst Nigel Pendse, Business Intelligence analyst and author of the OLAP Report.

As a result, new product development atrophied and Brio's Business Performance Suite software - now based around the query and analysis suite Brio Intelligence, Brio Portal and Brio Reports - fell behind rival offerings from Cognos, Business Objects and Actuate.

This was compounded by the reaction of the Brio board. As sales growth stalled, Brio's founders - who had always cultivated a technology-centric, employee-focused company - were elbowed out, to be replaced by more commercially-minded executives led by former Oracle vice president Craig Brennan.

"[It was] a rude shock to people used to a more human style. It alienated many previously loyal to the Brio ecosystem. And customers were no longer willing to put up with increasingly ragged support and products that weren't progressing," says Pendse.

Product updates have been incremental rather than ground-breaking. The focus has now moved from query and analysis to business performance. Aside from enhancing Brio Intelligence with better security and the ability to work with SAP's Business Warehouse and Hyperion's Essbase analysis platform, in May 2002 the company announced Brio Metrics Builder 7, an analytic application used to identify business performance problems. The software can be used with Brio's Intelligence suite or alongside tools from Cognos and Business Objects.

But unless Brio can fix its own business performance problems, it will only be a matter of time before Brio loses its independence, concludes Pendse.

Company: Brio Software

Products: Brio Intelligence Reports, Portal, Metrics Builder and Brio Reports

Top executive: Craig Brennan

HQ: Santa Clara, California

Company status: Publicly listed on Nasdaq

Key financials: Brio's revenues fell by 26.5% to [pound]111.4 million in the year to the end of March 2002. Net losses rose to $25.7 million from $9.7 million in fiscal 2001.

Key competitors: Business Objects, Cognos, Information Builders, Actuate

Infoconomy comment: Brio is running out of time in which to rekindle its sales. And analysts doubt whether the company now has sufficient development resources to allow it to get back in the race against arch rivals Cognos and Business Objects.
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Title Annotation:Brio Software
Publication:Information Age (London, UK)
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 10, 2002
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