Top 4 Features in Explorer


In SAP’s business intelligence (BI) portfolio, SAP BusinessObjects Explorer is the data exploration tool geared towards executive-level users. They can view automatically-generated graphics and charts, and drill down into data for more information. On the iPad, all it takes is a simple tap or swipe of the finger. Sure, Explorer looks great in demos and presentations, but what does it really deliver to users in terms of practical value? We spoke with the experts at SAP to learn about the most useful capabilities in SAP BusinessObjects Explorer. Here are the top four picks:

Go to the next page to find out why SAP’s keyword search is so unique.

To learn more about SAP’s BI portfolio, see these articles:

1. Keyword search – just like Google

SAP BusinessObjects Explorer is the only data discovery tool that supports a search function using keywords.  Users need only enter simple keywords to find related content, à la Google. The benefit of this kind of search is that it makes BI insights accessible to everyone, from experienced analytics users to the average business user.

People who don’t work with reports on a daily basis can easily search for and find information on the BI platform without having to create complicated metrics first. More advanced users will already know where to find the data they’re looking for in their information spaces on the BI platform.

Read on the next page: Dashboards – no IT required

2. Dashboards – no help from IT required

Dashboards are useful tools that give users a visual overview of different key performance indicators (KPIs) at a glance. A dashboard might display the latest sales figures across different retail outlets and geographical regions, for example. Creating these dashboards has traditionally been a task for the IT department, which means it tended to be costly and time-consuming. With SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, users can quickly and easily build their own information views (the term used for dashboards in this BI solution).

As users explore data and come across interesting insights, they can take “snapshots” of the relevant screens and create a single overview. Once this view is saved, it will automatically update the various charts and graphs with the latest numbers. Users can also share their information views with colleagues on SAP’s BI platform.

Read on the next page: Maps – put your data in context

3. Maps – put your data in context

The mapping capabilities offered in SAP BusinessObjects Explorer provide a high-level starting point for data exploration. By displaying a company’s latest sales figures across each of its office locations, for example, users can see right away if there are any interesting anomalies that should be analyzed in more detail. Is one site underperforming? What factors could be at the root of this? A map can prompt these kinds of questions and get the ball rolling on further analysis.

There are two different mapping functions in SAP BusinessObjects Explorer. One is for the web-based version; the other is for use on the iPad. For web-based users, the mapping feature comes pre-integrated, so it is quick and easy to use. The tool generates city, county, state, and country views, but does not allow users to drill down further than cities.

SAP BusinessObjects Explorer mobile app for the iPad, on the other hand, can also be integrated with Google Maps. This gives users the ability to zoom in to extremely granular geographic views. A company that maintains oil wells, for example, could access a report that shows the location of each well on a map along with its output. Users will need to enter the exact geographical coordinates for each point of interest they want displayed (i.e., latitude and longitude) – a daunting task if carried out manually. Luckily, there are a number of third-party tools available that can determine and add the necessary coordinates.

Read on the next page: Explorer on the iPad – SAP’s most popular app

4. Explorer on the iPad – SAP’s most popular app

BI applications have been accessible on mobile devices for many years. But only recently, with the introduction of the iPad, have they come close to competing with fully-fledged desktop versions. SAP released its SAP BusinessObjects Explorer app for the iPad two years ago, and it remains the company’s most popular app today.

Users have all the same data exploration capabilities in the app as they do in the web-based version of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, but mobile users have the advantage of Apple’s intuitive user experience. And in many ways, functions like dashboard sharing and mapping are even better-suited to a mobile app than a desktop application. For example, people who have an iPad 2 or higher can use geolocation technology to see points of interest in their direct vicinity.

Can Android and Windows users expect to get the benefits of BusinessObjects Explorer on their tablets any time soon? As long as the iPad continues to dominate the tablet market in the enterprise, SAP’s investment will first and foremost be directed towards the Apple OS. The BYOD trend, however, pretty much guarantees that other operating systems will get an Explorer app, sooner or later.