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Midsize Companies: How to Capitalize on Your Strengths: Leverage New Business Intelligence and Performance Management Capabilities from SAP

by Mindy Fiorentino and Wei Wang | SAPinsider

July 1, 2009

Explore how new capabilities in SAP BusinessObjects Edge BI, as well as two new performance management applications in the SAP BusinessObjects Edge solution portfolio, help midsize companies convert their strengths over their larger counterparts into a sustained competitive advantadge.
 

Midsize companies enjoy unique strengths over their larger counterparts — they typically have a sharper focus, greater agility to respond to market needs, and a tighter relationship with their customers, employees, and suppliers. But the existence of these advantages isn’t enough. To succeed, midsize companies need to convert these strengths into sustained competitive edge.

Most midsize companies offer a narrower range of products and services than larger companies do. This targeted market focus only becomes a competitive advantage, however, if everyone in the company is aligned and given clear visibility into what is working well (so it can be quickly capitalized on) and what is not working well (so it can be rapidly addressed).

SAP: An Established Leader in the Midmarket

SAP is already a market leader in delivering BI solutions to midsize companies around the globe. These companies use SAP BusinessObjects Edge Business Intelligence (BI) software — which consists of ad hoc query, reporting and analysis, dashboard and visualization, and data management capabilities — to help them better understand, analyze, and even predict what’s occurring in their organization.

SAP BusinessObjects Edge BI solutions are designed so that a business user can perform tasks, such as uncovering the root cause of a customer support issue, without having to call on the IT resources or external consultants that are typically only available in larger organizations. These solutions enable midsize companies to take advantage of a complete range of BI functionality at a lower total cost of ownership than larger enterprises.

Providing Greater Insight to a Wider Audience

SAP recently expanded its SAP BusinessObjects Edge portfolio with state-of-the-art capabilities in BI and performance management (PM). In the following sections, we’ll explore new capabilities in SAP BusinessObjects Edge BI, including enhanced data exploration tools, as well as the addition of two new PM applications to the SAP BusinessObjects Edge solution portfolio.

New Data Exploration Capabilities

We’ve learned that midmarket business users need an intuitive, simple way to access key information, such as trends and representative charts, from their current — and potentially multiple — source systems to enable them to make well-informed decisions. This would allow virtually any user to leverage BI capabilities to identify issues that otherwise would not be visible, and then proactively address them.

Accordingly, we recently introduced new data exploration capabilities as an inherent part of SAP BusinessObjects Edge BI. These capabilities allow business users to quickly find, explore, and retrieve business information to get insights into their operations. After entering a search term, users can view results, select a specific result, and then explore additional data around that result. And as they explore the data, the system automatically shows visual representations of related data charts and graphs with the software choosing the best visual format based on the data’s “shape” (see Figure 1).

Figure 1
The new search and exploration capabilities of SAP BusinessObjects Edge BI software

For example, consider a retail clothing distributor that would like to better understand the purchasing behavior of its customers within certain sales regions. The distributor’s business user would simply type “dresses” into a search box in SAP BusinessObjects Edge BI. When the user clicks Search, the system finds and presents a chart that shows dress sales across different US states. The system also automatically presents a “clothing sales by region” chart and identifies associated trend charts, recognizing that climate (from the “by region” designation) is an important, relevant attribute associated with dress sales.

Budgeting, Planning, Consolidation, and Strategy Management for the Midmarket

Finance and line-of-business managers need reliable, up-to-date financial and operational data for planning, budgeting, forecasting, and analysis so they can determine how to best allocate their often limited resources. Managers at midsize companies typically rely on spreadsheets for this information. While spreadsheets have familiar modeling capabilities, they also come with severe disadvantages:

  • Spreadsheets lack structured processes and centralized data and require time-consuming, manual data entry to be useful

  • Budgeting and planning can quickly deteriorate into a “spreadsheet nightmare,” with version control problems that can rapidly get out of hand

  • Office productivity tools often become disconnected from corporate strategy

  • Spreadsheets open the door to increased risk of errors due to a lack of checks and balances

To address these issues, SAP offers two new performance management solutions that are specially packaged and priced for midsize companies.

SAP BusinessObjects Edge Strategy Management helps midsize customers improve performance by connecting goals, initiatives, and key performance indicators (KPIs) across a department — and even across an entire organization. The solution allows users to prioritize and weigh initiatives based on their impact on strategic goals to ensure alignment with strategy and focus on what matters.

SAP BusinessObjects Edge Planning and Consolidation helps midsize organizations easily create and manage plans and budgets that are aligned with financial plans and resources and synchronized with corporate strategy. The application also allows managers to seamlessly integrate corporate and departmental planning, intelligently model business scenarios, and perform analyses to determine operational budgets based on strategic plans and assumptions.

Additionally, while managing budgets via spreadsheets can present process challenges, business users are familiar and comfortable with them. That’s why SAP BusinessObjects Edge Planning and Consolidation provides native access to Microsoft Excel, linking spreadsheets directly to “live” operational data; as this data is updated in real time, so is the interface. Working with tools they know well, users need minimal training and are productive from day one.

SAP BusinessObjects Edge Planning and Consolidation replaces fragmented collections of spreadsheets and emails with a streamlined process that lets organizations align their plans, budgets, and forecasts, or consolidate financial results across the organization. It also ensures compliance with regulatory mandates for consolidating and reporting company information, both externally and internally.

Sustained Success for Your Midsize Business

With its comprehensive portfolio of reporting, ad hoc query, analysis, and dashboarding capabilities, its new BI capabilities for data exploration and data quality, and its additional budgeting, planning, consolidation, and strategy management solutions, the SAP BusinessObjects Edge portfolio enables midsize companies to gain visibility into their operations and processes, ensure that decisions are based on hard facts (not gut feel), allocate limited resources optimally, and improve organizational alignment and accountability in a cost-effective manner.

With these issues out of the way, midsize companies are positioned to use their agility, focus, and customer intimacy to sustain a competitive advantage. Visit www.sap.com/solutions/sapbusinessobjects/sme/edgeseries/index.epx to learn more.

Mindy Fiorentino (mindy.fiorentino@sap.com) is Vice President of SME Solution Marketing at SAP, focused on taking SAP’s BI and performance management solutions to the SME market. She has over 20 years of high-tech marketing, product, and sales management experience. Mindy previously worked as Vice President of Product Marketing for Hyperion Solutions; she also served as Vice President of Marketing for Hyperion’s eCRM Analysis division and held other senior roles in the software solutions market.

Wei Wang (wei03.wang@sap.com) joined SAP via Business Objects, where she led all SME product marketing activities worldwide. Wei is now Senior Director of Solution Marketing at SAP, focusing on the business intelligence product portfolio in the SME market. She has over 10 years of product marketing
and product management experience in enterprise software and the hardware industry. Wei previously worked at Cisco Systems in various roles, including
business development, product management, and SME marketing.


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