SAP Business Intelligence Review

SAP
Product:
Vendor:
Founded:
Headquarters:
Business Objects
SAP
1972
Walldorf, Germany
Ownership:
Customers:
Deployment Model:
Free Trial:
Public
365,000+
Cloud, On-Premise
Yes
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Business Objects At A Glance

Good: Minimal or no involvement from IT, BI analysis done from multiple data sources and in different formats, accessible via any platform.
Bad: Confusing licensing process, frequent support fee hikes, tend to be complex for non-tech users.
Bottom Line: Broader BI solution with self-service functionality.

Product Overview

SAP has roughly 14 BI solutions that are aimed at different company sizes and industries. For example, one BI solution is aimed at SMBs, while another solution is geared toward companies that work with Microsoft Office. Other solutions allows for the user to access their BI data via their mobile devices or provide additional analytical features.

For the purpose of the review, we will focus primarily on SAP’s BusinessObjects BI Platform. Like other BI software, SAP allows for self-service functionality, meaning the end users can access and retrieve their business data without IT’s involvement. This frees up the IT department so they can focus on other aspects of their jobs.

Most BI platforms tend to be specific to the company function (i.e. HR or sales) but the SAP’s BusinessObjects platform provides a broader solution. Users can perform BI analysis from multiple data sources and in different formats.

Thanks to a partnership between SAP and Microsoft, SAP users can work with Microsoft Excel and access applications and data through Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Office 365. SAP mobile apps is also available for Windows and Windows Phone 8.1.

SAP BusinessObjects is deployed either on-premise or in the cloud. There is a Web version (BusinessObjects Web Intelligence) for users to perform ad-hoc queries with easy-to-understand language, as well as flexible reporting options.

Features

SAP’s BI platform includes the ability to integrate data with Java and Microsoft SharePoint, among other sources. Users can also publish customized BI data to anyone, as well as manage BI deployment from a single platform.

SAP also includes a BI launch pad for users to access any data within the company network via any platform (desktop, mobile, etc).

SAP has recently debuted its 4.2 version update for BusinessObjects that include enhancements such as:

  • Better search and data access
  • Faster BI configurations with server groups at runtime
  • New unified viewer consumer interface in the Web Intelligence platform

  • Ad Hoc Analysis?
  • Online Analytical Processing (OLAP)?
  • Predictive Analysis?
  • Profit Analysis?
  • Trend Indicators?
  • Ad Hoc Reporting?
  • Automatic Scheduled Reporting?
  • Customizable Dashboard?

Target Market

SAP sells its products to over 365,000 customers in many industries, including healthcare, education, retail, banking, and manufacturing. Below is a partial customer list.

  • 3M
  • Bayer Material Science
  • BOA Group
  • Dow Corning
  • eBay
  • Family Dollar
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Proctor & Gamble
  • Smithfield Foods
  • T-Mobile

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Implementation/Integration

SAP offers these following implementation services:

  • Cloud Professional Services – Some of the services SAP offer includes advising and assessing cloud readiness, developing strategy on moving to the cloud, virtualizing a company’s business-critical SAP applications in private cloud, and migrating existing SAP software to the cloud.
  • Early Adopter Services – This service is for companies that want to adopt SAP’s new software in an efficient manner. With their Ramp-Up program, SAP provides companies the opportunity to review key features, explore benefits of early adoption, meet other Ramp-Up customers, and learn about upcoming Ramp-Up schedules.
  • Rapid Deployment – This approach allows customers to have SAP solutions implemented in weeks rather than in months, regardless of whether it’s on-premised, SaaS, or both.

Customer Service & Support

SAP provides training on its software both online and in a traditional classroom setting. Prospective users can enroll in any of SAP’s 40 training centers. Or they can enroll in a virtual live classroom without leaving their home or office.

Online training is also an option – SAP offers e-Learning courses as well as a Learning Hub. Users can access any training materials at their convenience. Note that the cost of training is not included in the software purchase.

Users can access the SAP support portal to access documentation and a knowledge base for issues related to BusinessObjects. They can also participate in the SAP BI platform community to get answers from and exchange ideas with other SAP BI users. Finally, they can contact support by email, phone or submitting a ticket via the portal.

Pricing

SAP does not publicly release how much their software costs, although it provides a buyer’s guide explaining how they arrive at costs for specific licenses. They also offer financing options. Please contact them directly for a quote.

Shortcomings

SAP’s ERP program has been noted as being not very user-friendly or inuitive, and it can be difficult for non-tech users to navigate. More training support from the vendor would be helpful to users struggling to adapt to a complex technology.

Specifically, because SAP is so multi-leveled and complex, many SAP expert support personnel are only distinctly qualified in one specific area. This can cause a disconnect between the problem at hand and the ultimate needs of the business, causing additional costs and reduced efficiency.

The licensing process with SAP has proven confusing for many users. Some have reported frequent support fee hikes, and there are multiple levels of maintenance required on the program that build up additional costs.

Screenshots

SAP Screenshot 1
SAP Screenshot 2
SAP Screenshot 3

About

SAP is the third-largest independent software manufacturer. It aims to help companies of all sizes and industries operate their business efficiently and stay ahead of their competition. In addition to BI and other analytics, SAP provide products for CRM, Human Resources, ERP, and Sustainability, among others.

SAP has offices in more than 130 locations all over the world. SAP Americas, a subsidary, has over 40 branch offices in the U.S., with its main headquarters in Newtown Square, PA.

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