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The SAP BI roadmap: What's in your way?

by Davin Wilfrid

February 9, 2011

By Davin Wilfrid, insiderRESEARCH

insiderRESEARCH recently surveyed 321 SAP BI professionals to determine the top challenges they faced when following the SAP BI roadmap and offer real-world advice for approaching those challenges. Below is the executive summary of the report, called The SAP BI Roadmap: Perceptions, Challenges, and Opportunities for SAP Customers.

SAP acquired Business Objects in January 2008 for $6.8 billion — a transaction that brought the world’s leading vendor of enterprise business intelligence (BI) into the SAP portfolio. Soon afterward, SAP announced a new roadmap that focused on SAP BusinessObjects as the direction for all user-facing BI applications.

For most current SAP customers, adhering to the roadmap means integrating SAP BusinessObjects BI applications into their existing SAP landscapes. However, relatively few were already running enterprise-wide BI initiatives on SAP BusinessObjects before the acquisition, so following the roadmap would require a shift in strategy — something large companies do not take lightly. Complaints have since surfaced over licensing costs and the roadmap itself, the particulars of which have cha nged several times over the past three years. In fact, griping about the SAP BI roadmap has become a cottage industry on many blogs and Web sites.

We set out to find the truth about the SAP BI roadmap, and to provide SAP customers with valuable information to help them understand and prepare for the challenges ahead. This report clarifies some of the most confusing aspects of the SAP BI roadmap and helps your company make the right decisions by offering:

  • Insight into what your peers are doing
  • Clarity into the SAP BI roadmap
  • Objective analysis of the challenges of following the SAP BI roadmap
  • Real-world advice for navigating those challenges

Key findings

We found that a large majority of SAP customers (76%) do intend to follow the SAP BI roadmap, yet most are in the evaluation or planning stages and comparatively few have successfully completed an integration project. While the economy and a sluggish project environment are partly to blame, the technical challenge associated with integrating SAP BusinessObjects with an existing SAP environment is clearly the top obstacle to following the roadmap for SAP customers.

We also found that confusion about name changes to SAP BusinessObjects applications is real, but not as great as some may believe. While a majority of customers say they do not have enough information on the roadmap or SAP BusinessObjects applications, most were able to identify the primary applications and the functions they serve.

Other key findings include:

  • A majority of SAP companies (66% ) have had BI applications for at least five years
  • 70% report their BI initiatives run on standardized technology at multiple levels of the enterprise
  • A majority (63%) do not believe their users are capable of getting the most out of SAP BusinessObjects tools
  • Only 15% track ROI on their BI projects

Conclusions and recommendations

The SAP customer base is mature and ready to move forward along the SAP BI roadmap. However, customers should be aware of several challenges to an effective integration project. These challenges are due in part to the technological complexity of integrating SAP BusinessObjects, but also reflect a lack of appropriate project planning, as many companies fail to prepare for the unique challenges of BI projects.

To successfully plan and execute an SAP BusinessObjects integration project, customers should focus on:

  • Building a business case that includes metrics for tracking the success of the project
  • Understanding their own BI requirements adequately
  • Preparing for technical challenges
  • Ensuring the project team has high-level skills in both SAP and SAP BusinessObjects
  • Using a rapid application development model
  • Emphasizing end-user training

Looking ahead

SAP plans to release version 4.0 of SAP BusinessObjects in the spring of 2011. SAP promises many enhancements to the BI applications in that release, including improved connectivity options to ease the challenge of integrating SAP BusinessObjects into an existing SAP landscape. Already SAP has improved some connection options, such as improving the BAPI that supports SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence, creating new connection options in some areas, and adding the option to use SAP Business Explorer (SAP BEx) BI Consumer Services (BICS) for some types of connections.

SAP customers can expect the integration capabilities of SAP BusinessObjects BI applications to improve with each new release. However, we believe technical issues will remain the top challenge to integration for the foresee able future.

To download the complete report, go to: www.insiderresearch.wispubs.com/sapbiroadmap

 

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