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SAPPHIRE NOW was a whirlwind as always. We had fairly steady traffic at the upgrade booth. It was interesting to see what a variety of versions and experiences our customers and partners have had.

I spoke with many customers who are on versions of BI 3.x and looking to move to BI 4 in the near future and those already on BI 4.0 who are interested in seeing what is new with BI 4.1. As well, we had customers who are on traditional SAP BI solutions (Bex) looking to adopt the BusinessObjects portfolio.

Many customers asked, what is the key message I need to take back to the business about upgrading and what do I need to know. Here is a brief summary of what was shared.

Why should you upgrade to BI 4?

There are 3 key benefits to BI 4.

First is the ability to mobilize all your BI content.

With the version of Mobile BI coming out this quarter it now supports: WebIntelligence, Crystal Reports, Dashboards, Design Studio (plus Analysis clients) and Explorer in a single mobile app with the ability to annotate and collaborate around the content. We have seen a big spike in the adoption of BI in organizations that are delivering this through mobile devices, especially to executives and the mobile members of the workforce.

Second, is Enterprise Self-service BI.

While the topic of self-service BI is not new, (see my previous blogs on this), the notion of who self-service is for and what it provides has changed. The combination of Explorer and Lumira (previously Visual Intelligence) provides self-service not just to Analysts but also decision makers. The integrated workflow between the two provides an end-to-end self-service solution. This means the Business Analyst can be self-sufficient in accessing, augmenting, manipulating and merging data, as well as having a great visual exploration experience. But then they can provide the results of this effort to the Decision Maker, without now becoming a content provider.  With Explorer Decision Makers can go beyond navigating a dashboard to explore all the information, not just what is presented in the dashboard.

Finally, getting more out of your BI system by reducing the cost and effort to maintain the system. In the current global economy we are all being asked to do more with less within our organizations. BI teams are no exception. To this end SAP introduced a multitude of changes in BI 4 to make managing the BI system easier, including: Hot Backups, integrated monitoring, unified and expanded auditing, improved lifecycle management.

What you need to know before you upgrade?

The key to a successful upgrade it planning and support. SAP has a multitude of resources to help make your upgrade successful on the Upgrade Resource Page. The page has information on what is new in BI 4, changes to sizing, as well as other resources and helpful information to make the upgrade successful.

In addition to planning and resources we also recommend seeking help. SAP has a great services organization and partner community who have been helping customers upgrade successfully. For more complex deployments we recommend calling in the experts to ensure success.

Finally, SAP has made a big change to how patches are applied and the forward fit strategy. This will make upgrading from patches and minor releases easier and less confusing. Bernd Bergmann does a great job of summarizing the change and benefit in his blog.

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