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SAP + BusinessObjects = BI Self Services?

All of you who started reading this blog are already familiar with SAP acquisition of business objects.  Its definitely an eye-catching merger that all of us as SAP practitioners come to aware of.  There are several theories on why it happened such as expanding customer base, product consolidation,…etc. What ever might be the reason, the affect is very clear.  More and more customers are opting for SAP Business objects as their de facto BI standard.  The reason behind that flocking is simple and complex at the same time.  Simple because business objects BI suite standardises existing BI infrastructure.  The other reason which I say complex is that it allows business users to write their own reports.  Are we talking BI self services here?  Is it a simple job to make BI self services reality?  Then what happens to the IT departments who are serving the business needs so far in terms of creating reports? In order to understand this little better, we need to dive into history. 

Did you remember the old days of telephone systems.  People used to call telephone operator and then they used to get connected to their corresponding party. I wasn’t present long enough to do that but I saw that in history channel.  Slowly, the operators were replaced with automation that resulted “self service telephones”.  Similarly, take instance of DVD rentals.  Now a days we see self service kiosks.  Hence, reliable level of automation leads to self services.

Now let us come back to SAP world.  Self services in SAP HR world is quite famous just because it removes the burden of maintaining employee information from HR dept and gives it back to employees.  Does this mean that HR department vanished?  Their headcount might have decreased but they can focus on more strategic issues unlike ever before.  But this didn’t happen in a single day.  First the backbone of HR became reliable and stable enough to support this transformation.  Once the Org management, time, payroll areas have stabilized as products then self services are on full swing. 
Similarly, we have all kinds of self services such as manager, supplier, and customer self services which save money & time.  So, what is the next thing in line.  The answer may be business intelligence.  Based on what I read the business objects tool set allows business users create their own reports.  In order to make that happen the underlying framework needs to be robust enough accommodate all the needs as well as reliable.  Also, the end users tools needs to be as good as iPhone gadgets. I think the merger of SAP with Business objects accelerated this much desired change.  The IT department needs to do is to embrace this change.  They take a back seat and provide the services that enable business users get what they want in a way that they desire. 
I look forward to sharing how SAP BusinessObjects tools enable the BI self services in companies and corresponding challenges in future articles. 
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  • It is definitely a good thing that people are moving towards self services for their analytical needs...
    There are things that organizations must do :
    a. Create flexible data layers where someone could pull up related data together through a WEBI or a crystal reports ... this would mean better universe design ... which would mean scalable SAP BI models
    b. Train the user on usage of these tools and empower them to spread the word
    c. Look out for possible analysis scenarios that requirements would have missed and make sure that all users are covered.

    On the part of SAP :
    a. More documentation and samples on BI - BO Integration
    b. If possible avoid additional layers and expose data from SAP BI directly onto either Polestar / Xcelsius etc instead of having a universe in between - I do not have anything aganist BO - but the very thought of creating and maintaining universes in addition to cubes and multiproviders might prove daunting enough for users to think of not going the full distance with BO.
    c. Maybe an express way and long way for going the full distance to BO with some accelerators from BO would help... something like click a button and all your multiproviders are created in BO as universes ??? - may be possible...

    My 0.02

    • Great feedback Arun.  I agree with you that Universe design is the key as it is the building blocks. 

      Your points to SAP are also very valuable.  I would have to research further but Polestar/Xcelsius might be based on SOA which might make life easy interms of integration.  


      • I agree with Arun partially, but creating an Universe in between reports and Multiproviders could reduce the complexity and pain while building objects(cubes, DSO etc.) in the warehouse.

        With universes end users feel more comfortable to build their own reports and also the universe can be build based on the users reporting requirements and changed easily when ever there is change in users requirements. this flexibility is hard to achieve in the multiprovider layer in the warehouse.


  • As long as SAP+BO will lead to faster access to information that the users need then it will be good.

    BTW, are there any documents that show SAP BI-BO integration? Appreciate if anyone can share those with me.


  • Hi All,
    This is a very interesting blog which clearly establishes this partnership between SAP and BO as the next big thing in Business Intelligence(BI).

    My Observations on this are as follows.

    1. SAP BI has always had a very strong back-end Architecture and integration capability with Hetrogenous Systems.
    2. The Limitations were mostly in the  SAP BI Front-end esp in Formatted Reporting and Dashboarding 
    3. With this Partnership, I feel these limitations would be reduced or eliminated as BO provides a large set of Tools which have their individual usage types.
    4. For the Customer, by adapting to these Frontend tools he gets to view visually stunning Dashboards on Excelsius, or embed dynamic Dashboards  in Presentations with what if scenarios which is highly user friendly and still uses basic XL Functions.
    5. And lastly there is very minimum training required by the Customer to get themselves acclimatized with these environments.

    Pls share your feedback - Swami.