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The insideEdge (SAPinsider Vol. 4, Iss. 3)

by Klaus Kreplin | SAPinsider

July 1, 2003

by Klaus Kreplin, Member of the Extended Managment Board, SAP AG SAPinsider - 2003 (Volume 4), July (Issue 3)

When it comes to business intelligence (BI), there is a broad end-user continuum. In your organization there are highly skilled corporate business analysts who need advanced query functionality and dynamic drill-down capabilities. Your executives need balanced scorecards and dashboards to monitor business activities and to ensure alignment between corporate strategies and tactical execution. Then, there are your information consumers who need business updates but do not require deep analytic functionality, as well as your partners and customers who will want to use your portals and extranets to appropriately access subsets of business data. This user continuum requires BI that is seamlessly integrated into the rest of your corporate infrastructure, such as your portals. Across this expanse are numerous systems and technologies — SAP and non-SAP alike.

For those tasked with responsibility for a BI infrastructure, this user continuum poses a profound challenge. How do you guarantee that heterogeneous data gets properly integrated and converted to business insights while providing consistent information from one user to the next, from one functional group to the next, and from one analytic application to the next? In the wake of disconnected, disparate results, I’ve seen departments at odds with one another, challenging each other on who has the “real truth.” How can you even begin to make that determination when analytic functions for marketing, finance, and logistics applications may utilize different BI models, measures, and key figures — and might be accessing differing transactional systems? The answer is, you can’t.

To minimize latency between business insights and corresponding actions, BI functions must be built into transactional and analytic applications from the start, so that the underlying BI platform is pervasive and there can be no debate. This is why analytic functions are now embedded within all SAP applications. Operating off a common BI infrastructure, all users — from your customer to your CEO, from your shipping department to your finance team — interact with consistent data and common insights.

SAP NetWeaver is the enabling technology that supports this infrastructure. Our integration and application platform enables the BI infrastructure to be an integrated, end-to-end, BI solution — from extraction, data modeling, data warehousing, and reporting to analytic processes. This integration makes deployments faster and cheaper. Synchronized release cycles of the various NetWeaver components yield radically reduced downstream TCO and fast ROI.

But success in today’s business climate is not just a matter of cost savings. You must utilize your BI investment to ensure business activities are clearly aligned with corporate strategies. You need to monitor and improve upon current practices. And you need to continually identify, evaluate, and act upon new opportunities. Universal pressure to do to this, and to do it well, has catapulted BI to one of the leading business priorities. As you address this requirement, remember that a common, consistent, and pervasive approach for converting data into insights is the key to your success.

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