According to a study by coretelligence, a business intelligence (BI) consultancy, SAP’s takeover of Business Objects has generated uncertainty among SAP customers about how to plan their future BI strategies.
SAP communicates the basic planning for further development and integration in its road map and will have one of the most comprehensive BI solutions available on the market. By including Business Objects, SAP has created a joint portfolio containing no less than 40 tools from 14 different software vendors. Many customers are unclear about what they need to do right now, the study found.
“The change in strategy will certainly lead to added costs for customers,” says coretelligence’s CEO Andreas Wilmsmeier. That is why customers need to channel necessary investments in a way that will support further strategic development. “Even if there is no immediate or drastic action to be taken at the BI tool level, the current phase does provide a challenge,” Wilmsmeier adds.
He believes that companies should use this challenge to critically analyze their own BI strategy and make them fit for the future. They can do so by following these steps:
1. BI agenda
The change in SAP’s BI product strategy offers companies the chance to review and reorient their own BI strategy and ensure progress at their projects. They should
- compare the goals set with the results achieved
- analyze any obstacles to implementing the BI strategy
- define new requirements and goals.
While reviewing their BI strategies, companies must consider the strategic value of new opportunities: This is where the most potential lies, so investments in new tools are justified.
2. Infrastructure consolidation
Many companies have an infrastructure containing different systems and tools from various manufacturers – often because the software chosen does not offer the right set of functions. This results in high running costs and unnecessary redundancies. Instead, companies need to draft and then implement strategic plans to consolidate their infrastructure. They should look for an integrated, flexible, and cross-process data and process platform – to tap the full potential a strategic platform should offer.
3. Architectural modernization
A future-oriented enterprise data warehouse architecture needs to consider groundbreaking architectural concepts, such as service-oriented architecture (SOA) or SAP’s planned business process platform. The concepts should incorporate a clear separation between the platform (on which the data is provided) and the application (for using the data and information), thus following the principle of “information on tap.”
4. Human element
In the future, BI tools will be easier to operate and enable users to analyze data themselves. This requires greater networking of information and more interactivity. Appropriate platforms need to be set up along the lines of Web 2.0 – meaning they will produce rather than consume information. Employees need to be prepared and trained for doing this – to harness the full potential offered by these modern platforms.
5. Organizational structures
The combined strengths of SAP and Business Objects enable companies to introduce a clear architectural separation between the platform and the analytical applications. This creates new requirements for the BI organization, which needs to coordinate BI activities in the various organizational units and IT department. This is only possible if roles are clearly defined and assigned.
6. BI processes
The next generation of business intelligence is expanding beyond the traditional boundaries of analysis and reporting. Relevant information is directly supplied to the decision makers responsible for a business process. Companies will have to understand BI as a service and implement their BI technology accordingly in the future – that way, they can embed BI in business processes and thus generate more value.