Business intelligence solutions provider Panorama Systems said Monday it was enjoying its strongest year ever in Israel thus far, refuting claims in the Hebrew press that it was closing its Israeli operations. "In 2006 alone we have sold close to 60 customers in the Israeli market, which is better than we did in previous years," chairman and founder Rony Ross told The Jerusalem Post. "We increased our personnel [in Israel] last year and while we don't have plans in the immediate future, I believe in the beginning of 2007 we will [hire again]." For this reason, Ross said she was very surprised at the report, saying she was "sure" someone had deliberately tried to mislead the reporter "for reasons that are very difficult to understand." Ma'ariv reported Monday that the company was planning on closing its Ramat Hahayal research and development center and fire its 45 workers there after Microsoft, which bought Panorama's technology 10 years ago, acquired competitor ProClarity in April, thus making the company's products redundant to the software giant. Ross said Panorama, which was started in Israel and is now headquartered in Toronto, continues to cooperate with Microsoft and will continue to invest in its Israel operation. "There is always business to do," she said. "The business intelligence domain is very complex and diversified and the needs of the customers are very sophisticated. The fact is there are 15 to 20 companies making a very successful living in this sector and they continue to compete with each other and grow their businesses." Having turned down Microsoft's offer in 1996 to acquire the whole company and opting instead to sell just the service aspect of its technology, Ross said she has no regrets for having kept its customer base. She noted that the company, which she owns together with Intel, JMI Equity, Platinum Newron ventures and Canadian company XPL has outpaced all its competitors since 2002, growing at a rate of 50% each year. In addition to the commercial success Panorama has enjoyed in Israel where it is currently servicing over 170 local companies, Ross said having its R&D center in the country has been a central factor to its global success. "The requirements of our customers have been able to guide us into developments that have really made a difference for us in the global market," she noted, adding that the company continues to invest in the center and develop new platforms there. Among these developments, Panorama has embarked on a diversification strategy moving into the SAP platform. Earlier this year, the company announced it was working to enable Microsoft Office 2007 to work as a primary business intelligence front-end application for SAP BW through its flagship product Panorama NovaView. Such a move, Ross said, is expected to give the company an added boost in the market's changing landscape. "It is true that Microsoft acquired ProClarity and that it poses a certain challenge, but it will also help us better execute our diversification strategy, which we started before the Microsoft acquisition," Ross said. "It is really going to drive a lot of customers our way because the SAP customers we have already are all indicating how much they need a product like the one we are going to deliver."