In many of today’s enterprise data warehouses and decision support teams, data scientists and data visualization specialists have reached near rock star status. This is in large part due to their ability to produce unique, clever and insightful perspectives with company information. These analytical gems often bypass obstacles to explain complex business data. This line of work is both an art and a science, and is generally most effective when the right blend of business intelligence tools are in place.
Mining for nuggets of data gold is done today by “dredging” through millions of rows and hundreds of columns, combining data from disparate sources, and transforming unstructured data into a usable format. What was once just raw data can quickly become elegant and actionable information when specialists develop:
- Highly customized scorecards
- Interactive dashboards
- Detailed reports
- Report/dashboard hybrids that I like to call “dashports”
- Data storyboards
Herein lies two of the biggest questions for data warehouse (DW) and decision support system (DSS) teams:
- Which business intelligence (BI) vendors and tools should we invest in to give us the best capabilities for analyzing our company’s data?
- Should we invest in one of the industry’s newcomers or stick with a perennial leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant?
Let’s examine the strengths of the world’s leading BI Platform vendor — SAP BusinessObjects and its release known affectionately in the BI community as simply BI 4.1.
The Strengths of a Mature BI Vendor
Even though BusinessObjects was first introduced in 1997, it has continued to remain more than just relevant; it is a leading visionary in the business intelligence and analytics platforms. In addition to a host of great BI tools like Crystal Reports and Lumira, SAP produces one of the industry’s most complete extract-transform-load (ETL) tools with SAP Data Services.
Note to all budding BI developers: Data Services and ETL developers are generally known as the “brains behind the operation” in nearly every BI/DW shop.
Below is my list of top 10 reasons for choosing SAP BusinessObjects, followed by a brief description of its key strengths that I believe set it apart from all competing vendors.
10. Tools for Every Use Case
- Web Intelligence — Ad-hoc query and analysis reporting
- SAP Crystal Reports — Pixel-perfect reporting
- SAP Lumira — Easy agile data visualization that anyone can use
- SAP Design Studio — From guided analytics to sophisticated OLAP applications and dashboards with iPad support and an HTML-5 UI
- SAP Predictive Analysis — Visualize the future with what-if scenarios and harness the power of SAP HANA.
9. SAP NetWeaver BW and SAP ERP Connectivity
- Create relational multisource connections to SAP BW InfoCubes.
- Gain direct dimensional access (through BICS connection) to BEx queries.
8. BI Launch Pad for Enterprise BI
- Give users access to their reports, dashboards, storyboards and query and analysis documents through a browser in a BI portal known as the BI Launch Pad (known in earlier versions as InfoView).
7. Security and System Administration
- Manage security in the Central Management Console (CMC) to create the most ideal and secure implementation of BI data solutions. Servers (or services) are also managed and administered in the CMC.
6. Scalable Architecture
- Easily accommodate more users by clustering and cloning of servers.
5. Mobile BI
- Need to see your reports on your phone or tablet? No problem. SAP BusinessObjects Mobile Server for BI 4.1 synchronizes with the SAP BusinessObjects platform.
4. SAP Data Services
- Information management at its best. Perform all of your ETL jobs with this extremely powerful solution.
3. SAP HANA Connectivity
- Harness the power of this in-memory juggernaut.
- Access your big data and forecast the future at high speed.
2. The SAP BusinessObjects Universe
- The patented semantic layer — gain access to any data source.
- Take advantage of a mature set of features and functions that makes a Universe the most ideal data source for reporting.
1. Web Intelligence — The world’s leading query and analysis reporting tool
- Handle hundreds of thousands of rows in a single report.
- Create powerful documents from multiple universes and data sources.
- Build highly customized reports and dashboard hybrids.
- Create advanced analytical documents by leveraging more than 150 available functions.
- Filter, rank, sort, break, format and link report data.
- Schedule to refresh and export data for ultimate convenience.
- Share documents with users across the enterprise.
With the right tools in the hands of your developers, the “gold in them thar hills (of data)” may be closer than you ever imagined. Stay tuned for more BusinessObjects and BI blog posts diving into the importance of scorecards, dashboards and web intelligence!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jim is a senior data warehouse developer on the Enterprise Reporting team for Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) at their headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. He's the lead author of all three official SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence textbooks and has more than 12 years of business intelligence development experience.