Last week I have a chance to look into the SAP BusinessObjects Explorer and this is the comment of my first look (well, actually I had a very brief look at Sapphire Now in Orlando. So this might be my “first and a half” look, ha).
The SAP BusinessObjects Explorer is a presentation tool that targets a much wider spectrum of users than other presentation tools like Web Intelligence, Xcelsius (oh, should start calling its new name: SAP Dashboard and Presentation Design), and Crystal Report. It caters to business users from the executives to the analysts.
Before you start using the tool, you have to build an information space and set up index based on the selection made. After this initial set up, you can bring data into a data set for slice and dice and further analysis. In SAP BusinessObjects XI 3.1, the information space must connect through the universe(s). But in XI 4.0 (tentatively scheduled to be released in October 2010), it can connect to any data source without the universe.
With the Explorer software alone, the limitation is 3 billion rows of data. Beyond that limitation will need the accelerated version which is a hardware solution. The accelerator server sits between the data warehouse and the BusinessObjects application server(s). It uses the In-Memory technology to speed up data processing exponentially. Currently, the accelerated version is for data from Business Warehouse only. A Wave 2 will be released in Q3 of 2010 that will allow you to accelerate any data source.
My first impression with the Explorer is good. It seems to be an excellent presentation tool for the business users. Unlike Web Intelligence where slicing and dicing humongous amount of data (e.g. slowly changing inventory data down to the leaf level) can be a rather painful experience to the business users, the accelerated version of Explorer transforms multi-dimensional data into columnar and helps business users analyzing massive data in the speed of thoughts.
However, I am disappointed on the export format though. The Explorer is still exporting data into .xls format and not .xlsx format. That means it is still bound by the 65,536 rows limitation (additional rows of data will be wrapped to the next tab of the workbook). Microsoft Office 2007 has been out for several years. Why are we still not supporting Office 2007 format?
I will write more on this product when I dig deeper into it later. If you are an iPhone/iPad user, a demo app can be downloaded from the App Store.
[updated on 6/15/2010]
For the soccer fans who are also interested in SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, go to http://tinyurl.com/sap-football to sign up. You can analyze and predict World Cup result on that web site, using SAP BusinessObjects Explorer. It contains 50 years of World Cup history for analysis and trending. Have fun!