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Once upon a time in BI…

Honestly, some fear and doubt has lead me writing this piece. 

We as SAP BI/BW practitioners/consultants have helped achieve implement and support the BI/BW solution into organizations. We are moving (some of them have already) towards SAP Business Objects as their sole reporting platform front-end with SAP BI/ Other data warehousing solution.

Customer – “Let us implement BI.”

Elements such as implementation cost, change management, core team, ROI, resources, time like always formed a base set of factors for an organization to decide and go ahead with a successful BI implementation. Now, with technology revamping itself in so short a time that customer are still in a stage to absorb the former. This is a natural belief and I assume would be applicable in most of the cases.

Customer – “Let us look at all the BI tools available in the market.”

My intend towards writing this blog is “These scenarios are making the customers think the same elements to decide for a BI implementation in a whole new manner”. There are many BI solutions/tools available in the market to suit every customer in regards to time, effort and cost. And I guess everyone would agree to the fact, SAP BI implementations consume considerable time. Yes, depending upon the strategy and processes adopted for the implementation the time can be cut down. Still, even if it is optimized, do we really think we will be really get a report working in Production within 2 days??

Customer – “BO needs SAP BI?” 

With Business Objects capability of working with practically any underlying database, I along with many believe it has established a strong integration with non-SAP sources of data. If we put the customer’s thinking cap, can we expect them to think in a way similar to this — Why not take an underlying data base with minimum implementation time, less number of implementation resources, minimal cost and later on a minimal support required too? Make Business Objects sit on top of it, and I am done. 

Customer – “Then why buy SAP BI?”

If it seems, I am questioning the future of SAP BI. Yes I am. Because I have a lot of thoughts flying through my mind that I would request help me achieve clarity on. We as SAP BI practitioners need to justify our customers, in turn. Can we build a strong justification of SAP BI implementation on implementation time, costing, resources and support? We will not be able to do this keeping in mind SAP BI as a stand alone solution but need to compare it with a series of BI tools available in the market.


I strongly believe if we can work on how to target and continuously rebuild these soft elements along with the advancing technology. This will allow the customers and us feel justified resulting in the best an organization can get after the implementation. As consultants, we need to continuously rebuild the vision with such technological advancements. This in turn needs to be shared with the customers, to allow them feel at ease and comfortable in the all the resources and effort they put in towards a BI implementation.

Will not this dynamic nature be passed on to them, not as a question but as a vision for which they already have an answer. 


PS: I have read a number of blogs and expert comments on future of BI, BI-BO but a realistic flavour was felt missing in those, since I still have the thinking cap of that of a customer. Because finally its not what we want, its what we help they achieve the best in what they want.   

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  • Good consultants always think from customer’s POV. Your questions are all very valid – but are not difficult to answer at all. Doing some internet searches would point you to a hundred articles on these topics. But more than this freely available information – it is your own thinking about the topic that will help you the most.

    SAP has a big portfolio of products and technology options – and as you gain familiarity with the breadth of it, you might actually get creative solutions without using BW etc. Not all BI problems even need a report to solve – I have in the past used searches, widgets, web services etc to solve the business problem, without using the traditional BI tools.

    Also, SAP is not the only show in town. SAP solutions make sense in a lot of cases, and not so much in others. If you broaden your horizons and look outside SAP – you might be able to give some unique high value solutions to your customers.

    • Hi Vijay,

      Thank you for the insights provided. I agree that a lot of information is available around and that the consulting abilities are the ones that matter in providing efficient services (from all aspect)to the client.

      Think from the client perspective as you rightly pointed out; persnonally I feel does not sustain throughout the implementation of the project. And this leads in such soft elements of the project being missed out which gradually creates a sense of discomfort for the client.
      Once more aspect that I wanted views on is the SAP BI future. Most of the points in the blog, I have put are from the Customers perspective. Could you please help throw some light on it?

  • Valid questions, but before sharing my thoughts I would like to hear your answers to your questions:
    1/ What is the value of BW?
    2/ What is the future of BW?

    May be your point of view will already eliminate me answering the same 🙂


    • Hi Vitaliy,

      The questions are bang on target if asked by a customer to me 🙂 cos thats what I wanted to bring out from this blog.

      We know what BW is useful for from business point of view. I agree to that. Regarding the future of BW, its bright (yes we will have jobs :))

      Value & Future of BW- Its a must for any business to prosper. Analysis is the base for any decision making. Though the real picture right now is slightly different. BW is not completely used as an analytical tool. It is used as a REPORTING tool. Data warehousing solutions will be an efficient part of any organization and might replace the MIS departments. Future of any data warehousing solution (please note I am not considering only SAP BW, but my blog needs answers precisely on furture of SAP BW in todays market where there are so many tools available, which makes the customer think twice considering the criteria mentioned in the blog) is definitely promising looking at the power it offers supporting the business in different ways.

      PS: I do not know what in my blog lead u ask me these questions, but hope the questions rose of the blog would get answered by your inputs 🙂

      Kunal Gandhi

      • Hi, Kunal. Thank you for providing your answers.  I know these questions are not easy, but I think the answers are not too difficult either, and you should have no “fear and doubt” about it. 🙂
        One of the biggest issues with BW use is when the customer overcomplicating its implementation – trying to provide BW reporting in places where – as Vijay mentioned – searches and listings based on OLTP systems are completely enough.
        Seeing BW as an REPORTING or even only ANALYTICS tool is narrow. The value of BW is that it is integrated solution consisting of
        1/ Data Warehousing platform
        2/ Open BI Platform (Analytics Engine for OLAP and Planning + Open connectivity for 3rd party BI tools including BObj BI)
        3/ BI Tool – BEx
        4/ BI Content
        Please show me another solution on the market that has all of this in one integrated package.
        I found that customers who are most questioning value of BW are those having one SAP Business Suite system (most often ERP). Indeed if they are using simple static reporting on mostly non-modified data extracted from ERP into BW – the ROI is questionable. But go to the customer who has complex SAP landscape with multiple ERP systems + CRM + APO + non-SAP systems, and the question for the need of data warehouse just goes away. Add to this complex environment requirement of not only analytics, but as well data re-distribution where data warehouse is used as well as a hub for transactional and master data exchange between all the different systems.
        Obviously BW is not without downsides – lack of bulk loading capability for mass data being one of those.
        Net, it is not enough to put customer’s hat – you need to put as well customer’s glasses and look through the perspective of requirements/needs to justify the solution.
        PS. Recommended reading:
        SAP BW 7.3 beta is available
        Is your BW the Data Warehouse, anyway?
        • Hi Vitaliy,

          Thank you for providing insights to the scenario. I agree to what you and Vijay have justified.
          As BW consultants, what we are supposed to help the customer understand, is pretty much made clear and will be helpful to others as well.

          Just, I think the aspect of comparing SAP BW with other data warehousing tools in regards to implementation cost, resources, support effort was missed. Can we try to throw some opinions on that (without putting anyones hat/glasses, but a personal opinion)?

          In general, helping customers understand (by us) on a regular basis will help them keep convinced and bring out a very good collabrative outcome.

          Kunal Gandhi