Roadmap: SAP BusinessObjects BI

Feature Article | July 17, 2012 by Heather McIlvaine

Feature pack 3 for SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 increases support for mobile functions. (photo: istockphoto.com)

Last year SAP integrated mobile access, in-memory computing, and big data analytics into SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0, and called the portfolio its most important BI release ever. Today, these capabilities are must-have BI features. Gartner predicts, for example, that 33 percent of all BI content will be consumed on a mobile device within the next year. It’s no longer sufficient to simply be able to remotely call up reports; users now want to be able to dig into the data from their mobile device. Enter feature pack 3 for SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0.

This eagerly-anticipated release delivers both entirely new functions to SAP’s BI suite as well as enhancements for existing features – all with an eye to mobile, social, and big data trends. Current SAP BusinessObjects users can get the latest updates by deploying support pack 4. This is available today in SAP’s Service Marketplace in the Software Download Center.

BI to ERP in real time

In terms of platform improvements, the most important new features are centered on SAP HANA and big data analysis, tighter integration with the SAP core, and ease of use. We highlight some of these below.

SAP HANA and big data analysis

  • increased platform support for ERP, Sybase, and Essbase
  • support for solutions on SAP HANA and Hadoop Hive
  • access SAP HANA analytic and calculation views from any BI client
  • tap into data in Hadoop Hive directly from semantic layer

Tighter integration with SAP core

  • access ERP data from semantic layer in real time
  • initiate operational transactions in an SAP or non-SAP application from within a BI visualization
  • send BI documents to a SAP StreamWork activity

Ease of use

  • improved platform monitoring
  • increased customization and flexibility

Next page: More enhancements for BI tools

Feature pack 3 also delivers a number of updates for individual tools in the BI suite, including SAP Crystal Reports, SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, SAP BusinessObjects Mobile 4.1, and others. For an overview of all the tools in SAP’s BI suite, who should use them, and when, see “User Guide: SAP BusinessObjects”.

One of the most important new updates for SAP’s BI tools is the launch of SAP Visual Intelligence. This is a completely new BI tool for data discovery that allows users to create analyses and visualizations on top of SAP HANA. Starting with the big picture, users can drill down to the detail-level and get real-time answers.

Hear SAP CIO Oliver Bussmann talk about two usage scenarios for SAP Visual Intelligence in the video below.

More support for Mobile BI

Existing BI tools also have a number of enhancements, thanks to feature pack 3. These mainly center on increased mobile access and integration with SAP HANA.

SAP BusinessObjects Mobile 4.1

  • support for SAP Crystal Reports
  • support for new features in SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence, such as drilling, sorting and ranking
  • integration with Sybase Unwired Platform and SAP StreamWork

SAP Crystal Reports

  • new options to connect to and share reports using SAP BusinessObjects Mobile

SAP BusinessObjects, edition for Microsoft Office & edition for OLAP

  • support for analytic and calculation views in SAP HANA, including SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation and SAP BusinessObjects Profitability and Cost Management

SAP BusinessObjects Explorer

  • users can now create their own explorations views
  • intuitive time and geography awareness

Next page: What’s next for SAP BusinessObjects BI software?

SAP Crystal Reports on the iPad. New functions to edit and share reports. (Screenshot: SAP)

The new BI tool, SAP Visual Intelligence. (Screenshot: SAP)

Now that feature pack 3 for SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 is on the market, many users want to know what they can expect to see in upcoming releases. SAP already has a number of innovations planned for its next BI release. Many of these include further improvements in familiar territory: SAP HANA, big data, and mobile.

In order to make it easier to use SAP HANA and Hadoop with BI software, for example, SAP is planning to improve access to models in SAP HANA, provide migration tools, and enhance performance. In addition, the new BI tool, SAP Visual Intelligence, should benefit from integration with SAP HANA down the road. This applies to SAP BusinessObjects Explorer as well.

Support for Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle platforms

On the mobile front, SAP is planning user experience improvements for SAP BusinessObjects Mobile. These include support for report navigation, favorites, and instance control on Android and iPhone devices. SAP also has plans to improve access to SAP Crystal Reports on mobile devices. An interactive mode for better drilling and sorting, for example, is in the works.

Increased platform support is also on the roadmap. In the future, SAP BusinessObjects BI software should support more platforms, such as Sybase ASA 12 as well as the latest Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle platforms.

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