Today, SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott announced “SAP BI Analytics By Design”. From what I saw, these are basically rapid marts in a pre-packaged format for specific industries which includes Universes, Connectors, Reports, Dashboards, the Portal, and everything else except for the ETL. This basically allows for plug and play (they estimate an 8 week implementation for most customers) access to industry standard metrics and it sounds like they include everything for drill-down, auditing, and compliance within the suite.
Naturally, there is a solution for Healthcare (my old industry) but not mining/natural resources (my new industry) — grrr, timing — but I still see a lot of potential in this offering, depending on price. If a customer decided to implement one of these solutions, they would have tremendous opportunity to run parts of their business “out-of-the-box” and focus on core competencies and expanding abilities in those areas. So much time in most organizations is spent reinventing the wheel on subjects like key performance indicators (what they are and how do you define them), standard reporting (there really only need to be so many ways to generate a balance sheet), and visualization (the color of a given slice of pie is pretty low-impact) this could allow companies to realize fantastic savings in time spent figuring those things out. I actually see a bigger market for companies who have already invested extensively in an analytics solution but have yet to realize the value from it, because these should solve most of the big issues that cause BI initiatives to stumble (what to measure, how to measure it).
There are also some outstanding questions, and the most difficult ones will exist for customers with existing SAP BusinessObjects installations. How will a per user license fee work inside of an Enterprise installation? Since these new solutions come packaged in a portal, will they need to be standalone, or can it be integrated? How extensible will these files be, i.e., if we already have the tools to change them (Dashboard Design, Crystal, Webi, Designer)? How can we leverage these items in our other BI investments (Explorer, Roambi, Live Office, etc.)?
In sum, I think these could be very useful for companies looking to jumpstart their analytics disciplines in the available industries, and I actually think it could be a better opportunity for organizations with existing investments to right any wrongs they may have committed. I believe that executive commitment will be the largest indicator for success (hopefully the short implementation window will help) and will be required to push the change through lower management levels who aren’t interested in changing what they measure or how they measure it. I for one am very interested to see who is willing to take advantage of these opportunites, and what sort of returns they see from their investment.