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Into the crystal Ball…. whats coming for SAP BI

Well … it my first blog for 2009 and was thinking of what could be different this year as compared to the last…. ( Apart from the economic slowdown that is …) speaking from a technical point of view…. went through a lot many sites offering their own view of what is to come and thought that with what I have seen in the last year and what I read … I could sense some trends for SAP BI to come ….

Trends :

    • Increasing the reach of BI
    • Consolidation of landscapes following mergers
    • Appliance driven growth

Business Objects :

    1. Usage of dashboards using tools like Xcelsius
    2. Migration of reports to crystal reports to be prepared for 2010

 Well … what do they bode for us…?

More usage of web services :
Web services is what Netweaver is all about and with CE coming in we can start seeing BI becoming part of mainstream processes. We can start seeing BI coming into workflows and composite applications. But then it is only going to start now because the tools are finally here , but then it depends on the number of customers who migrate all their modules including BI to CE7.0 upwards….

Expect more Widgets , VC Models and a lot more possibilities.

Increasing the reach of BI
BI is no longer confined to planners , managers etc… it will start getting propagated across the enterprise where BI will start becoming a way of life. Also we can start seeing a portal based strategy coming up because of the number of users and of course the licensing and rollout of different tools and versions.

More users across the spectrum will start logging into BI and with web service usage increasing we can see that number increase even further.

Consolidation of landscapes following mergers
Not completely relevant to SAP BI alone .. earlier customers could deploy what was called a best of breed solution … now they have few choices for an Integrated BI environment … namely IBM , Oracle , SAP , Microsoft….etc . Each of these tools have their own ups and downs and system expectations. Accordingly company IT policies could start becoming shaped to accommodate the same so that they have an integrated BI environment.

Why an “Integrated BI environment” ???
It makes a lot of sense in terms of reduced licenses ( not necessarily cost!!) , Cost of managing the same is easier and rollout and interconnectivity costs are lower. But for those who have a large spread out landscape it will have to be started soon.

Appliance driven Business Intelligence
We will start seeing appliances for everything… BI accelerator was one… If you have bad performance – implement the BI accelerator – it comes pre configured with little setup required…. if you want flashy dashboards – implement Appliance B and so on. It might be too early to predict the other kind of appliances but then increased absorption of BI accelerator can be seen given that Data Warehouses are getting older and running out of steam .. given the necessary budgets of course….

Business Objects :

Dashboards / reporting enhancements
Customers will start exploring with tools like Xcelsius to deliver dashboards so that high level Buy in can be obtained towards BI and a new aspect of BI – the dashboard composer will emerge. This will be someone who knows the metrics , is a Management person and has the capability to design dashboards himself / herself without major support from IT. Only training is required , the person does his workbooks and then gets Xcelsius to do the rest.

Again of course – IT budgets withstanding….

Migration of reports to Crystal Reports<br /><Change: BEx is not going off support – please read through the comments section for further links on Product Roadmaps etc for the same .. apologize for the earlier gaffe ><Removed>- There is a lot of interest for customers to align themselves with SAP’s BI roadmap and identify new areas such as Crystal Reports / Crystal Xcelsius etc so that they have the necessary competencies built into their IT infrastructure to be able to make the most use of the new features being provided. Mainly long term initiatives which would being with them a plethora of changes to the existing landscape.<br /> </p><p> Again.. these are purely my views and do not represent the views of my organization. It is just an opinion of mine and is freely debatable. I would like to also hear from you as to what you think and if you think otherwise… I have also looked at the tool perspective than the services perspective for the same.</p>

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  • Arun, if I might add to your list – I would include data mining and predictive analytics. Of course, in 2009 this is probably true only for customers who have had a good BI system for a while.
  • Hi Arun,

    BEx is not going off maintenance in 2010.

    Take a look at for an accurate picture of SAP NetWeaver 7.0 maintenance schedules.

    The only exception to this is the SAP NetWeaver BI Report Designer.  It will have an accelerated end of life and it is recommended that customers consider Crystal Reports in the near term as opposed to building content in Report Designer.  But, RD is only one piece of the BEx offering and it was only introduced with the SAP NetWeaver BI 7.0 platform. 

    • Sorry about the mistake leslie … I got confused that BeX too is going off support ..

      The point I had tried to make is that since Crystal reports is available already .. we can come across organizations trying their hands on starting / kicking off the migration so that they are ready… especially large scale projects which have a huge data model base which cannot be migrated at one go.

      Arun Varadarajan

      • Apologies for a mistaken statement on BEx and that BEx is going off support – the blog has been edited to rephrase the statement  , apologize for the gaffe.
  • I would advise against customers migrating BEx reports to Crystal Reports, especially ahead of any SAP-delivered migration tool.  Crystal Reports is not the intended replacement for BEx queries. It is primarily used for static, high-formatted reports and is the replacement for the Report Designer.  Please reference the SAP BI Roadmap for the true replacement for BEx reports, which will explain that Voyager and eventually Pioneer are the new tools. Hope this helps!
    • I do accept that it would be too early to start looking at migration en masse , but more froman understanding perspective. We might see small initiatives within the project teams to get their hands dirty on crystal reports and look at migrating some static web templates / enterprise reports designed using report designer etc…

      It would be more of an educational attempt from the client’s perspective to understand the effort that might be involved later on when the migration tools become mainstream.

    • I would add to Brad’s comments that Crystal, when it was OEM’d and then Report Designer were always intended to be complementary rather than “either or” offerings with regards to core BEx analytical capabilities.  Crystal has its (formatting) strengths and BEx has it’s (OLAP) strengths.

      The real successor to core BEx capabilities is Pioneer.  Pioneer is again strong in the OLAP realm and will be complementary to Crystal.