The following example scenario highlights the benefits of close integration between the functions of SAP Business Intelligence (SAP BI) and the SAP Enterprise Portal: The sales manager of a retail company that sells household appliances in stores throughout Europe analyzes the SAP BI report containing the current monthly sales figures. He soon realizes that the sales figures for one of his sales areas are considerably below the sales targets. A slight drop in sales had already set off alarm bells in the month before. To get to the bottom of the problem, the sales director uses the analysis functions available in SAP BI. He restricts his report to the sales area in question and examines at sales of individual products. He very quickly determines that the negative sales figures are due in particular to a drop in sales in the refrigerators area.
Keeping problem areas in sight
So how then can the opportunities for distributing information and collaboration offered by the Information Broadcasting function in SAP BI help the sales manager resolve this problem? First of all, the functions enable fast, targeted distribution of information to every employee who needs to be notified of this situation. In our example, the sales manager calls up the context menu for his report provided by a BEx Web application. He opens the BEx Broadcasting Wizard with the “Distribute” function in just a few steps, he is able to e-mail the report, which is restricted to the sales area in question, to the appropriate regional sales representative. In the e-mail, the sales manager asks the regional sales representative to determine the cause for the drop in refrigerator sales. The report itself is included in the e-mail in Multipart HTML (MHTML) format.
In order to continue to keep an eye on the sales figures, the sales manager makes use of another Information Broadcasting function. He stores the report as a precalculated MHTML document in one of his personal foldersprovided by Knowledge Management (KM) in the SAP Enterprise Portal. To do this, he starts the BEx Broadcasting Wizard again, this time entering the desired folder as the destination. To compare the previous figures with updated ones any time in the future, the sales manager can use the BEx Broadcasting Wizard to create an online link to the BI report with the sales figures in his personal folder. The latest figures can be called up from the portal at any time via this link.
Sharing and linking knowledge
Not only does the close integration of SAP BI and SAP Enterprise Portal allows targeted distribution of BI information in the form of online links to web applications, to precalculated BEx Analyzer Workbooks or to Web applications in HTML or MHTML format, it also enables employees to collaborate in Collaboration Rooms in virtual teams across time zones and geographical boundaries. A Collaboration Room offers a number of functions that facilitate cooperation between employees working together on a joint project or help to resolve a problem. Shared documents, for example, are stored in this virtual team room. Among other features, links to web pages, a shared team calendar, project plans with milestones and discussion functions can be made available in this area.
Going back to the scenario, the sales manager receives information from the regional sales manager advising him that the main supplier of refrigerators in his region has been experiencing delivery problems for the past two months. In the last month in particular, several large orders have not been delivered. Consequently, the sales manager has a Collaboration Room set up, where the employees from various subsidiaries work together to find a quick solution to the problem. The team includes of the sales director, the regional sales manager and the regional purchasing manager.
Virtual teams look for weakpoints
In the Collaboration Room calendar, regular teleconferences between the team members are scheduled to take place over the next two weeks. There are also several folders for storing information. The sales director publishes the report with the sales figures in one of these directories using the BEx Broadcaster. He also uses the BEx Broadcaster scheduling function to ensure that this report is precalculated and updated in the directory every time new sales data is loaded into SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW). This means that all team members have continuous access to the most up-to-date figures. In addition, direct information on suppliers from mySAP Supplier Relationship Management (mySAP SRM) is available via an iView in the Collaboration Room. iViews enable direct access from the portal to the various systems within the company and the portal administrator provides iViews tailored to suit the various different portal users.
In the team’s first joint teleconference, the team members agree that the purchasing manager for the region in question should once again put pressure on the supplier to ensure that deliveries arrive on time. At the same time, he is to make contact with other refrigerator suppliers to find out whether there are viable alternatives to the existing supplier. After just a few days, it turns out that two other companies can supply refrigerators of the same quality at an even better price. The iView lets all team members view this latest information, which was initially recorded in the SRM system.
A few days later, a look at the BI report in the Collaboration Room shows that sales are continuing to drop, meaning a quick response is required. The purchasing manager informs the recent supplier that the contract is being terminated and then engages the company with the best offer. After a short while, the success of the new strategy is clear for all to see – sales of refrigerators in the region are on the upswing and will soon be back on target.