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SAP's New Analytic Apps

Much of what SAP has historically delivered has focused only on data stored in the SAP systems and then using SAP front-end technologies, whether the BW warehouse or Visual Composer, for example. The solutions announced last week take advantage of the BusinessObjects tools, Explorer, Web Intelligence, Xcelsius.
SAP is already the leading analytic applications vendor, according to IDC, so what is the big deal behind last week's announcement?

Much of what SAP has historically delivered has focused only on data stored in the SAP systems and then using SAP front end technologies, whether the BW warehouse or Visual Composer, for example. The solutions announced last week take advantage of the BusinessObjects tools, Explorer, Web Intelligence, Xcelsius. Most importantly, Data Federator is included in the architecture, enabling customers to use much of their existing infrastructure. Non SAP ERP customers can use these new apps, because they are no longer reliant on BW as a data source. The data can reside in BW, a custom data warehouse, or the transaction system. SAP says this abstraction layer will allow for a more flexible solution. Unlike most other analytic applications on the market, SAP is not requiring a physical data model.To comment on the Kimball Group article by Margy Ross featured this week, one of the problems with analytic applications is lack of flexibility, that the pre-built data models become data silos. The SAP BusinessObjects abstraction layer partially addresses the concerns raised in her article, because it doesn't require a precise physical model. SAP says that the abstraction layer will allow a business to more easily customize the analytic app.

The vendor also emphasized that these solutions were co-developed with their customers. While this clearly results in a customer-focused solution, I can't quite get my mind around how and why a customer such as Levi's or McCain would work on applications that SAP can then turn around to sell to a customer's competitor.

The final area of differentiation is that these applications will include predictive analytics as appropriate. Initially, it sounds like this aspect to the apps are through service offerings, but that overtime, it will be part of the applications.

The release this week further draws the industry battle lines with SAP's competitors:

  • Oracle, whose analytic applications have been growing rapidly but primarily serve Oracle ERP customers.
  • SAS whose industry-focused solutions are source system agnostic and account for a large portion of SAS's revenues.
  • IBM Cognos who has been gradually expanding its prebuilt analytic applications and industry blue prints.
  • For a short overview of leading BI vendor's approach to analytic applications, download the free BI Scorecard Market Segments report.

Regards, Cindi Howson, BI ScorecardMuch of what SAP has historically delivered has focused only on data stored in the SAP systems and then using SAP front-end technologies, whether the BW warehouse or Visual Composer, for example. The solutions announced last week take advantage of the BusinessObjects tools, Explorer, Web Intelligence, Xcelsius.

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