Software // Information Management
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3/31/2009
08:26 AM
Cindi Howson
Cindi Howson
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BI from the SAP Customer Viewpoint

It struck me that the SAP Netweaver BI & Portals conference keynote was perhaps too visionary for where attending SAP customers are today in terms of their BI initiatives. Many are primarily writing ABAPs for reporting... Even Business Objects Web Intelligence is a major leap forward for them...

I'm just back from the SAP Netweaver BI & Portals conference in Florida last week, digesting what's new, what's old, what's coming.

The SAP Insider conference is different from many of the BI conferences in that a media company, rather than the vendor, runs the event. I had last attended an SAP Insider conference shortly after the Business Objects acquisition was announced. Then and now, I noticed a stark contrast between the former Business Objects' conferences and these SAP Insider ones. I would have liked more enthusiasm and certainly less emphasis on legacy products.The event kicked off with a keynote from Marge Breya, EVP and GM of the Intelligence Platform. Joe King bravely backed her up with 16 demos that should have drawn oohs and ahs for both the content and sheer number. I wasn't sure if the crowd was quiet because it was an early start, lower attendance, or not impressed. As the day went on though, it struck me that the keynote was perhaps too visionary for where the attending SAP customers are today in terms of their BI initiatives. Many are primarily writing ABAPs for reporting. Some are using BEx with BW, but even Web Intelligence is a major leap forward for them. Those who have built a custom data warehouse and settled on an alternative BI tool strategy likely didn't attend.

BW expert David Dixon had an enlightening session on self-service BI and governance. He described the SAP BW Accelerator as "the closest thing to a silver bullet in the BI world." Indeed, one of the most interesting demos in the keynote was of Polestar on top of the BW Accelerator. Polestar is a combination search and visualization solution; BW Accelerator is a combination appliance and in-memory database. Navigating through a billion records with subsecond response times is alluring for any business user who has waited in the backlog of IT report requests or lamented, "why can't BI be as easy as Google?"

Coincidentally, I recently finished testing SAP BusinessObjects XI 3.1 and released a new BIScorecard evaluation. Based on an evaluation of over 250 detailed criteria, the vendor's latest release re-inforces why this product is one of the strongest on the market for its business query module, the best at information delivery capabilities, but lags on the OLAP front. Beyond the product capabilities, as the conference last week reflected, some SAP customers will follow the SAP BusinessObjects roadmap for strategic reasons. As one attendee told me, "we are married to SAP 13 times over."

Regards, Cindi Howson, BIScorecardIt struck me that the SAP Netweaver BI & Portals conference keynote was perhaps too visionary for where attending SAP customers are today in terms of their BI initiatives. Many are primarily writing ABAPs for reporting... Even Business Objects Web Intelligence is a major leap forward for them...

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