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Crystal Reports deserves better than this, no ?

I am not really an expert on Crystal reports….mostly BW and BI…

but ( you might think ) isn’t CR a BI tool ?

Now that is interesting, because depending on where you look or who you talk to, the answer may vary

And when you explain to a customer the difference between operational and decision-making reporting, OLAP and OLTP, ERP and BI……the CR kind or reporting seems to be a kind of hybrid, no?

Recently I have had very interesting meetings with several customers, who planed to implement BI tools, but needed a clear definition of their use first.

They also had some reporting needs (real-time, document-level analysis) that didn’t really fit into the BI definition

So I explained Crystal Reports, showed some examples, the integration with SAP ERP, the swiss-knife ability to connect to everything.

And EVERYTIME the answer was the same: SAP customer knew a lot of things about WebI and Dashboards, but very seldom anything about Crystal reports !!

I know perfectly that these tools aim at different things. But it appears that SAP talks so much about WebI, Xcelsius and Explorer, that in the end customers will try to use them for all kind of reports

Do you have the same feeling that Crystal Report is maybe not pushed forward as it should by SAP ?

Did you notice how little information there was at Tech’ed on CR compared to the other tools ?

I would be very interested in having your advice, because maybe I have completely missed a point: is Crystal Reports the Cinderella tool of the SAP BI portfolio ?

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  • As a now-bald "Crystal-head" back to CR-7 and Seagate Info days - I think that SAP Management under-estimated the sheer volume of legacy Crystal Reports (and probably Business Views) that are "lurking" around the planet.

    Sure, it's not pretty and dancing on your iPad (yet) but Crystal wins in the "Easy Gulp and Barf" (EGB) method for Operational and Transactional reports - which (along with the low-price) is a major reason why it was OEM embedded in so many Off-the-Shelf and Custom applications.

    Even now, the SAP Roadmap and ECC enhancement packs appear to be replacing much of the old BEX functionality with embedded Crystal Reports content *(Not sure if it is CR-2011 or CR4E formatted).

    Someone on the DSLayer Podcast below described Crystal as a "Utility" - and in many ways that is exactly what it is. It is a "part of the plumbing" that nobody thinks about or cares about until the sewer collapses - and then they understand the value.

    http://dslayer.net/dslayer/view/95-sap-crystal-reports-vs-web-intelligence-round-2

    I also assume that SAP-BOBJ Sales staff make a higher "margin" when selling WebI, Explorer, etc - and that's why they mostly ignore Crystal when discussing tools with clients.

    • Mark,

      thank you for your comment ! it confirms what I have read between the lines...

      unfortunately, the great advantage of embedding CR into ECC will not last, as it appears that with BI 4.0 FP3 all the other tools will also be "embedded"...

      But I will definitely go on recommending CR for special cases, like "nice reports on operational data" or "real time report on document level data"

      Best regards

      Eric

  • Sadly, it's always been the way. It's seen as a 'little' product. Nobody in sales seems to understand the number of Crystal licenses out there. Probably good for an independent consultant like myself 😉

    I worked in the Crystal team in Ealing, back in the days of Seagate Software. Where we sat was referred to as 'the Crystal Corner'. Crystal was only sold through the channel, and the direct sales team looked down their noses at all the Crystal stuff. They had quite a culture shock when Crystal became a central product with Seagate/Crystal Info.

    Then when Business Objects bought Crystal Decisions, I attended a seminar where the BO presales joked about how Crystal had only just had dynamic sorting added. He then proceeded to talk about how great WebI was now it had undo - something Crystal has had for a long time, and I'd consider to be much more important functionality.

    I often wonder what would have happened if Microsoft had just bought Crystal instead of messing about with SQL Server Reporting Services. It would have been a great fit. Maybe one day, the spurious rumours about Microsoft buying SAP will become true. Sadly, by then, Crystal Reports for Enterprise will have replace the 'proper' Crystal Reports.

    • Andrew,

      I can definitely feel some frustration there...no ? 😉

      it really seems that CR has been (and stays) apart from the rest, that's for sure, but it doesn't mean it's not useful. So no regrets !

      It's just the marketing presentation that would need to change, because I don't see any other tool in the SAP landscape that could replace it

      Best regards

      eric

  • I am in consulting and sometimes I do presales as well. When I go to customers as a salesman, honestly I don't show them Crystal Reports because Crystal Reports doesn't get their attention. I show them WebI, Xcelsius and Explorer and how it is very easy to create report by drag and drops etc. That gets their attention. We tell them that end users can create their own reports and dashboards with these tools which I haven't seen so many end users create their own reports.

    On the other hand, Crystal Reports is really powerful tool. However, it's not really end user oriented imho more technical oriented. Even though, WebI and Crystal Reports are used for different purposes, there is some gray area where you can use either one. When I go to customers, I like to use Crystal because you can almost do anything with it where on the other hand you will have limitations with WebI.

    The reason SAP and salesmen are pushing WebI and Xcelsius totally emotional (money). There is more money