Software // Information Management
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1/22/2008
02:07 PM
Mark Smith
Mark Smith
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BI Chaos Escalates with SAP-Business Objects Combination

SAP announced they achieved an ownership milestone to move forward with their acquisition of Business Objects and the formation of new subsidiary of SAP focusing on business user needs like BI and Performance Management along with Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC)... SAP also announced new solution packages, and you need to assess the "gotchas" in these offerings.

SAP announced they achieved an ownership milestone to move forward with their acquisition of Business Objects and the formation of new subsidiary of SAP focusing on business user needs like BI and Performance Management along with Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC). The acquisition of Business Objects has enabled SAP to accumulate a significant number of customers and technologies and bring new scale to their efforts. The market demand for supporting management processes has finally gained front-and-center importance for SAP and their future growth as it has for other large enterprise software providers IBM, Microsoft and Oracle.SAP in their press announcement highlighted their market leader position, with accumulated market share position from acquisitions and revenue they collect from you and your business. SAP is already claiming the leadership position in the market as Oracle had recently in 2007. Does any of that matter to you?

I do not believe that a market leadership position should be based on how much software you sell and how many customers you have through growth and acquisition. It should be based on the goal of supporting the purpose for BI and Performance Management in a uniform and cost-effective manner. This larger market need is faced by growing technology complexity, which has been a historical complaint by organizations using SAP. The shadows of customer satisfaction and trust with SAP on these types of applications and technology will not go away quietly with newly acquired software and management in charge. This is something that they and you will need to assess as you decide which technology will strategically meet your management needs.

As I've previously pointed out, Business Objects technology integration into SAP has significant challenges depending on the application or tool you are evaluating. Today, Crystal Reports 2008 is the best BI option for unified integration into SAP R/3 and SAP BW and one of the better options in the market. On other products from Business Objects, there will be a longer process to get integration of technologies into SAP, which would give them a competitive advantage. Of course SAP offers many methods to extract data out of their applications and place into a data mart that could be used by SAP or any third-party technology provider.

SAP also announced new solution packages for organizations, and you need to assess the "gotchas" in these offerings. Do the products in the package have multiple and overlapping administrative tools and user capabilities, do they require more consulting to make them operate effectively?

What can you do about these changes? I would recommend that you really investigate how well you can leverage these packages and products to support your performance management processes. Can you enable your business users to navigate across common needs for reporting, analysis, metrics, planning, goal and target assessment without having to switch between user interfaces and context? Do they require significant IT or business analyst support at every turn of managing performance?

How much from SAP can meet your required performance management capabilities and can it operate on one uniform platform? My current analysis is that Business Objects and SAP are not close to having a uniform platform for supporting BI and Performance Management together. You will need to ensure you understand these details and their products and requirements to ensure you know the level of administration and integration of technology that is required. Knowing the ongoing total cost of ownership to achieve benefits desired is not a nice to have but an imperative for your budget and a necessity for your business.

I have already seen many organizations that once used Business Objects and SAP adopt alternatives due to the complexity of the future of their organization and products. Some of these alternatives are from smaller technology vendors who provide a more direct and intimate customer relationship; some have a more integrated platform and capabilities, and others provide technology that meets your specific business requirements. In some cases open source or software as a service approaches are being adopted. Despite the market changes for BI and Performance Management, the market is ripe with choices and expanding with lots of BI and Performance Management suppliers. We already track over 250 technology suppliers in research coverage and we have more coming, which is just a small sign of the pressure you face to make the right decision.

Looking to see how BI vendors like Business Objects and SAP stack up and deliver Performance Management? Download the Ventana Research Scorecard and get a free score on your BI vendor and how well they support performance management.

Let me know your thoughts.SAP announced they achieved an ownership milestone to move forward with their acquisition of Business Objects and the formation of new subsidiary of SAP focusing on business user needs like BI and Performance Management along with Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC)... SAP also announced new solution packages, and you need to assess the "gotchas" in these offerings.

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