SAP has created a web-based reporting tool, which enables end-users to identify company trends by running Google-like queries on their internal databases.
Business intelligence is a key theme of the SAP World Tour 2009, taking place at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. SAP argues that with better business intelligence, companies are able to get a clearer view of business opportunities and risks.
SAP is offering the reporting tool, called Business Objects Explorer, through a free trial on its website.
Food company Sara Lee has used the software to process 14 million records in real time, returning results in 0.7 seconds.
Speaking at the SAP World Tour 2009, Bill McDermott, a member of the SAP executive board, said: "Explorer allows you to find business data in real time. There is no need to build reports."
McDermott used his keynote presentation at the conference to discuss how businesses can survive the recession: "There is no certainty. Now is a perfect opportunity to rethink your business strategy."
Tools like Explorer play a crucial role, he said. "Too many business executives lack clarity. You need clarity to anticipate internal and external threats."
He urged IT heads to make tough decisions by consolidating legacy systems, outsourcing non-core functions, using shared service centres where appropriate and focusing on business outcomes.
"Business needs to move from customer focused, to value focused," he said.
SAP is making its own internal value metrics available to help IT directors evaluate how much value IT can add to the business.