SAP has launched an "iTunes for business analytics", a BusinessObjects-based reporting tool that the firm boasts is "so easy that even a CEO can use it".
SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, which stems from the company's 2007 purchase of BusinessObjects combines an in-memory database, a custom-built search engine and a user interface that SAP is pitching as being similar to the interface of Apple's iTunes software.
The new offering is intended to enable business people to gain access to analytical insights in real time and on the hoof. "This is not just some reporting tool," said SAP CEO Leo Apotheker. "This will fundamentally change the way that decisions are made in the real world. Imagine executives being in the situation where they can test hunches in a few clicks, as easy as doing a search on the Web. We can cross the chasm from 'I think this is a good decision' to 'I know this is a good decision'."
The attempt to piggy-back on the iTunes angle reflects Apotheker's thesis that the arrival of what he calls "the digital generation" in the workplace demands a new approach to enterprise software overall. "The new generation expects enterprise software to be fun," he said. "They want to consume enterprise software like they consumer other tools on the internet. To use the hip expression, that is cool!"
The other demand on the shape of enterprise software will be the need for mobilisation and the ability to access and share business data anywhere and any time. "How many business decisions will be made in airport lounges?" asked Apotheker. "We are moving away from the IT enabled organisation towards the digital enterprise."