SAP Business Explorer, a component of SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence (SAP NetWeaver BI), provides flexible reporting and analysis tools for strategic analysis and decision-making support in enterprises. These tools include query, reporting, and analysis functions. Employees with the necessary authorizations can evaluate historical and current data with different degrees of detail and from different perspectives, both via the web and in MS Excel. SAP Business Explorer enables access to information in SAP NetWeaver BI – via SAP NetWeaver Portal, the intranet (Web Application Design) or mobile terminals such as WAP or i-Mode enabled cell phones and personal digital assistants.
Enterprise Reporting, Query and Analysis
SAP NetWeaver 2004s is made up of IT scenarios. Questions like “How can different and complex reporting needs be managed with one solution?” and “Can one solution address all types of user, from experts who need highly effective tools to end users who require simplicity?” represent the new SAP NetWeaver BI capabilities and the challenge that is addressed in the “Enterprise Reporting, Query and Analysis” scenario. This IT scenario consists of the following five variants: “Query, Reporting and Analysis”, “Ad Hoc Query”, “Excel Integration”, “Information Broadcasting” and “Modeling Embedded BI Applications”.
The “Query, Reporting and Analysis” variant describes the design, deployment and execution of SAP Business Explorer queries, formatted reports and SAP Business Explorer Web applications. “Ad Hoc Query” shows how a business user can employ SAP Business Explorer Web Analyzer to analyze ad hoc queries and create views on various data providers. “Excel Integration” explains how users can employ SAP Business Explorer Analyzer to design and interact with MS Excel-based SAP NetWeaver BI applications and workbooks. ”Information Broadcasting” describes the design, deployment and execution of information broadcasting settings and “Modeling Embedded BI Applications” enables business analysts to easily configure SAP NetWeaver BI applications in a visual modeling environment and deploy the results in the Enterprise Portal.
1.Query, reporting and analysis
The “Query, Reporting and Analysis” variant positions the SAP Business Explorer Query Designer as the central tool for creating and modifying queries and query views. The concept behind this tool is to guide and support the user in creating queries and executing processes. An intuitive user interface facilitates query creation and modification; the user can simply drag and drop one or more objects such as ratios or key figures into the rows, columns or free characteristics panel. With SAP NetWeaver BI, it is possible to set personalized default values and characteristic restrictions to simplify and target the access to information. A number of enhancements have been made to the SAP Business Explorer Query Designer with regard to usability. For example, for each object, the user now has direct access from the new “task pane” to various basic tasks like “jump to error”, “restrict” or “remove”.
With SAP NetWeaver 2004s, planning capabilities are integrated directly in the reporting tool; users create planning applications using the SAP Business Explorer tools. In this case, the SAP Business Explorer Query Designer is used to design a query that allows users to enter data for planning purposes. The multiple planning options can be defined in the same property pane.
Formatting reports for optimized printing and display
SAP Business Explorer Report Designer is part of the “Query, Reporting and Analysis” variant and is a completely new solution for formatted reporting. It allows the user to create any kind of formatted report and distribute print-optimized information throughout a company. Once created, the reports are optimized for printing and display on the Web.
The main function of the SAP Business Explorer Report Designer is the formatting of cells and fields. A special concept of “Row Patterns” has been designed for this purpose to format dynamic sections independent of the dataset. To edit a report, a menu, toolbars and context menu provide functions for each element. Users define all available format properties such as colors, fonts, text size, borders and padding using the format dialog.
Customizing information quickly
To enable Web applications and dashboard creation, the Enterprise Reporting, Query and Analysis variant is based on the SAP Business Explorer Web Application Designer that converts data into a simple but rich graphical representation. Web templates, such as a design representation of a Web application, are XHTML documents that consist of standard HTML elements such as tables, images or formatting, and different predefined Web items provided by SAP for displaying the query data – for example an analysis or chart item – executing interactions such as a button group or dropdown item, and grouping other elements such as a tab page or container item. The data providers are based on queries, query views or InfoCubes.
2. “Ad hoc” data analyzer
The second scenario variant, “Ad hoc Query”, introduces a completely new tool, the SAP Business Explorer Web Analyzer. It provides a thin client application that covers all ad hoc needs, without requiring any user training. The tool enables the ad hoc analysis of data on the Web and sits on top of SAP NetWeaver BI and third-party data providers. The analytical options are optimized for business experts. For example, it provides intuitive navigation using drag and drop, allowing users direct access to queries, query views or InfoProviders. The data is displayed in a table by default but a comprehensive menu enables the user to add or switch to a graphical view. A broad range of charts is now available on the Web, such as GANTT. The user can change the chart settings, such as legend position or axis description, directly in the SAP Business Explorer Web Analyzer. The menu enables direct access to exceptions and conditions. Users can create them with the help of a wizard.
The SAP Business Explorer Web Analyzer leverages universal data integration to access non-SAP data and allows users to access third-party tools via XML for Analysis (XMLA) and OLE DB for OLAP (ODBO) Java connectors. This means that the SAP Business Explorer Web Analyzer can sit on top of several SAP NetWeaver BI solutions and act as a central unique reporting solution. Direct access to the SAP Business Explorer Broadcaster, which targets email addresses or distribution lists, facilitates the distribution of queries or query views.
3. Excel Integration
The “Excel Integration” scenario variant introduces a new release of the SAP Business Explorer Analyzer and a number of important enhancements, specifically a more intuitive analysis mode and completely new design mode. The analysis mode provides a new default layout and enables intuitive navigation through the option to drag and drop objects to create or modify queries or perform navigation steps such as drilldown or swap axis or filter. For example, if the user wants to exclude a country from a report that shows a list of countries, he simply drops it out of the query and the country is automatically excluded. In addition, the SAP Business Explorer Analyzer now provides an editor for local calculations within the query to simplify the creation of new formulas. The user saves the calculation either in the workbook or in the query view and can reuse it for further analysis.
4. Broadcasting information
The fourth variant of the Enterprise Reporting Query and Analysis scenario, the SAP Business Explorer Information Broadcaster, offers the flexibility to distribute information throughout a company and beyond. Users can distribute any objects they have defined using one of the tools, such as query, query view, Excel and Web applications or formatted reports. The information can be sent ad hoc or scheduled, triggered by an event or integrated into a process chain. The information can also be precalculated. Broadcasting can also be trigged by an alert based on a defined exception. In addition, the user has the option to broadcast to recipients derived from the SAP NetWeaver BI master data and to adapt the output format for each recipient, as required. A number of distribution types are available: broadcast to email, broadcast to portal, broadcast to printer, or multi channel. Various output formats are available, for example, MHTML (MIME Encapsulation of Aggregate HTML Documents), PDF or on-line link to the object.
5. Modeling Embedded BI Applications
With the last scenario variant, which introduces the Visual Composer, business process experts can draw business intelligence data from single or distributed data sources and embed the data into analytical and composite applications. The Visual Composer is a new high-end user experience based on Flex technology. This technology enables a simple visualization of information and provides high usability and flexibility through advanced modeling capabilities. With the Visual Composer, application design is intuitive and completely model-driven. It allows business users to create analytical applications which cover analytical, transactional and collaborative steps. It can be integrated with content from SAP NetWeaver BI as well as heterogeneous data sources, including OLAP and relational data sources. The connectivity to SAP NetWeaver BI systems is defined in the portal, based on the following four SAP NetWeaver BI Java Connectors: XMLA Connector, ODBO Connector, JDBC Connector and SAP Query Connector.
The connectivity between SAP NetWeaver BI and the Visual Composer is provided by the SAP NetWeaver BI Connector, which provides direct access to services required for SAP NetWeaver BI-specific integration. When the Visual Composer model is complete, the code can be converted to HTML/B or Flash. The model can be seamlessly deployed in the SAP NetWeaver Portal, and immediately used as an iView. The interoperability of SAP NetWeaver BI and the Visual Composer enables convergence between business intelligence and enterprise applications, delivering both historical and real-time data in a business-process context.