Aside from the end of life for a release, deciding whether to move off SAP BEx comes down to an evaluation of feature/function, user adoption and integration. Unfortunately, the last item -- integration -- is often overlooked because of the sizzle factor of some of the tools on the market.
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SAP NetWeaver BW BEx continues to shine in areas such as multi-currency support, multi-language support, and use of flexible hierarchy relationships, and as a robust calculation engine and dynamic OLAP engine. While extremely powerful, these capabilities are overshadowed by the instantly impressive Web 2.0 flash-based tools available.
That notion is changing, however, and changing quickly. Pioneer -- the combination of the two flagship products SAP BusinessObjects Voyager and SAP NetWeaver BEx Analyzer -- will be made available in ramp-up in 2010. Soon, customers will be able to have a consistent user interface across desktop client and Web versions of the product. This will have a tremendous positive impact on end-user satisfaction and user adoption rates.
With an increase in end-user adoption rates, the velocity of information delivery will increase, which will be accompanied by an increase in ROI. Furthermore, this increase in consumption will result in additional needs for increased access to external data. The increased adoption and use of the front-end tools will drive the need to expand the underlying data warehouse, as well as increase self-service functions and automation initiatives. Customers will find the information value chains becoming more efficient as the tool integration matures. Taking a view from the BI Maturity Model developed by Wayne Eckerson of The Data Warehousing Institute, the integration will have a significant impact on helping customers transition from a state of actionable information to decision automation.
When you think of benefits, it comes down to removing the barriers to user adoption and increasing ROI. Getting to BW 7.2, which SAP has now rolled into the NetWeaver BW 7.3 release, and Pioneer will eliminate the last remaining barrier to attaining full user adoption. As users become attuned to the robust and consistent user interface, the focus will shift to additional information needs and a continued increase in the velocity of the information value chain -- driving automation.
David Fox is the principal BI architect for Claricent Inc., an SAP consulting firm that specializes in NetWeaver BI, and now in NetWeaver and BusinessObjects integration. Fox has more than 10 years of experience in NetWeaver BI.