SAP recently introduced SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0, a much-anticipated update to the company’s industry-leading business intelligence and analytics software. Release 4.0 offers an improved user interface, improved mobility, social networking tools, and the ability to gain meaningful insight from unstructured data.
Prior to rollout, SAP began running its own operations on the new release, under the guidance of David Poisson, IT Manager, SAP Global IT BI Organization. David spoke with Bill Kozel about how SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 has become an immediate success at the highest levels of the organization.
Bill Kozel: David, what is your team’s role in the release of new SAP BusinessObjects solutions?
David Poisson: Our team is responsible for deploying new innovations within SAP’s global Business Intelligence group, serving stakeholders in various lines of business. In addition, we provide feedback to the Standard Development Organization. We test releases week after week and month after month within scenarios that reflect real-world use cases. Through this iterative process, we gradually help the development team fine-tune the software and achieve the highest level of quality.
Bill: You recently reached a milestone in your use of Release 4.0, becoming the first live Ramp Up customer. What is the significance of that?
David: The milestone we reached a few weeks ago was outstanding for SAP Global IT for a number of reasons.
First, one of our top priorities was to be among the first customers to implement SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 – so that when we go outside to customers and consulting organizations, we can share lessons learned and best practices.
Second, this milestone is especially significant because it incorporates SAP BusinessObjects Explorer on iPad and SAP HANA appliance software. We’re not simply adding on to an existing release; we are delivering mobile enablement and real-time access to BI and CRM applications. And that’s very new.
Third, we’re establishing a new strategy for BI adoption within SAP in the future. That, of course, made reaching our milestone more challenging. But it also made it more rewarding.
Bill: How did you begin?
David: Our first scenario was to launch SAP BusinessObjects Explorer on SAP HANA, connected to an SAP CRM application. The intention was to empower sales executives to analyze and explore their sales pipelines in real time. With the new release, you can evaluate millions of CRM records from your iPad. That’s a kind of power that has never been experienced before.
Bill: What’s going on behind the scenes to enable that performance?
David: It’s all about HANA. We have dramatically improved the data refresh rate, which is the time it takes to move data from CRM to SAP NetWeaver. That rate used to be a couple of hours – which was already considered pretty great. Today, thanks to SAP HANA, it is just five seconds.
Bill: What are some of the other business capabilities of the new release?
David: Release 4.0 changes the way people interact with information. In the past, executives had to translate raw data into a PowerPoint or Excel format in order to present it in a way that could be understood. Now, with our new technologies, there are no more manual steps in between the raw data and the presentable format. So instead of creating an e-mail with a spreadsheet attached, people can now use their iPads and SAP BusinessObjects Explorer to present the data to others – or manipulate it themselves. The user experience is so good that executives want to use these tools themselves, without intervention by others.
Bill: Besides sales executives, who else within SAP currently has access to SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0?
David: Well, the real test is that we have put it into the hands of every member of the SAP Executive Board. They are now getting real time data on SAP’s performance from CRM, HR, ERP, and other key applications. And their feedback to us has been extremely positive. They’re excited to have this new level of immediate insights – and they’re pleased that we will be offering it as a tool to our internal and external customers.