ERP leader SAP is expected to deliver its Business Information Warehouse, a data warehousing platform that pulls data out of SAP's R/3 applications and comes with front-end tools for analyzing the resulting information, at its annual Sapphire conference this week in Los Angeles. SAP is also expected to elaborate on its Strategic Enterprise Management application, slated for delivery later this year, which aims to help managers make decisions by monitoring corporate indicators such as sales by region or product line.
Companies testing SAP's Business Information Warehouse include chemicals maker Hercules, Georgia-Pacific, Digital, Bay Networks, Colgate-Palmolive, and Dow Corning. The platform includes an online analytical processing engine for multidimensional data analysis and a metadata repository for managing data from both R/3 and non-R/3 applications.
The linking of ERP with business-intelligence tools such as data marts, OLAP engines, and desktop analysis software is emerging as one of the hottest areas in the software market. Other ERP suppliers are offering their own products. Lawson Software's Lawson Insight PI combines data warehousing and OLAP with the company's Web-based financials, human resources, and distribution software suite. Lawson has shipped versions of Insight PI for CEOs, CFOs, and chief operating officers. Versions of the product tailored for 27 other business roles, including HR and sales managers, will follow over the next year.
Oracle and Baan are rolling out similar systems, and other companies are stepping forward, too. Tibco Software Inc. last week introduced two products that deliver ERP data directly to desktop PCs, and Cognos began shipping OLAP and reporting tools for System Software Associates' ERP applications. This week, Infospace Inc. will introduce Infospace Information Center for SAP, a data analysis platform that includes D2K's Tapestry. Acta Technology, Broadbase, and Harmony Software came out with business- intelligence offerings for ERP earlier this year.