For many years, Business Objects has been at the leading edge of business intelligence software.
There are two main reasons behind this; the software and its evangelists.
To put it bluntly, Bernard Liautaud had a vision of how business intelligence software could work. He was right. At its most simplistic, you need an administrative layer, a semantic layer and a presentation/reporting layer. This manifested itself as Supervisor, Designer and Reporter. Very little changed for many years because Bernard had gotten it so right. The major change was from v3 to v4; as we moved from Windows 3.11 to Windows 95, Designer introduced an interface where we could drag joins rather than hand-coding them. That was it. Contexts and aliases have been our friends for longer than my son has been alive and he’s a full-on teenager who laughs at cassette tapes and barely remembers VHS. The absolute perfection of what is now know as the UDT absolutely must be kept intact. While you have all the functionality of data federation built into IDT, you have a tool in UDT that you under-estimate at your peril. A well-designed data warehouse coupled with a well-designed universe is a wonderful implementation; a joy to behold; a pleasure to work with.
The end tool matters little by comparison. As much as I was a fan of Deski, having know it for so long, Webi has evolved to take nearly everything from it to render it obsolete. IDT cannot do that with UDT. It complicates it, adding superfluous layers. Yes, I understand why it’s there and that DF wasn’t a great tool on its own but similarly, SAP, know this; there are many out there who are masters of the universe. They are not SAP BW customers but do not neglect them. At the very least, accommodate them; they know your tools better than you do at the moment and should be seen as a rich resource of market share and R&D.
Many reading this who are from a Bex/SAP BW background simply won’t get what I’m talking about. Those who are from a traditional BO over a database background will do. The IDT will prove useful when reporting over databases but only if there is no desire in that organisation for a reporting database, if there is no desire for trending and historical reporting. So, SAP, consider the future roadmap and consider how you change the semantic layer tool. Consider not changing it – you’ve had to do very little with it so far and that’s because Bernard got it so right to begin with.