Finding intelligence: SAP applies search engine principles to new business analytics platform

Enterprise software giant SAP claims its new business intelligence solution makes mining through mountains of corporate data almost as easy as Googling the location of the nearest pizza parlor.
By Sidney Hill, Jr., executive editor May 13, 2009


Enterprise software giant SAP claims its new business intelligence solution makes mining through mountains of corporate data almost as easy as Googling the location of the nearest pizza parlor.

“This is the first [business intelligence] offering that combines the simplicity and power of search against massive data sets to deliver real business insight,” Jeff Veis, VP of industry marketing for SAP BusinessObjects said of the new solution.

The application—dubbed SAP BusinessObjects Explorer—was unveiled Tuesday at SAPPHIRE, SAP’s annual user conference, which is taking place this week in Orlando. When introducing the product, SAP executives noted that it represents the largest integration

Find bits of data in record time

Business Objects, long known as a business intelligence specialist, provided the new system’s search and navigation capabilities. SAP provided application acceleration technology from its NetWeaver platform that allows the solution to locate precise bits of data in what some beta testers have described as record time.

That acceleration capability is available in a version of the solution that presumably would be purchased by large companies needing to comb through large piles of data.

A standard version of the package with the same search and navigation capabilities—but without the acceleration features—is recommended for smaller companies with smaller data sets.

Veis also noted that the accelerated version currently will only work for companies that use the SAP Business Information Warehouse

Veis said SAP developed this solution after conducting market research that uncovered two facts:



In works without having to understand how

“Too many people are making decisions on based gut feel, with inadequate information,” Veis said. “With traditional business intelligence tools, usersve to know anything about where the underlying data resides.” 

Siddarth Taparia, a principal in the SAP BusinessObjects, manufacturing organization, demonstrated how the product works. Microsoft ’s Internet Explorer with a search box in the center. Explaining that the demo would be using dummy data related to the service operations for a supplier of heating and cooling systems, he typed the words “warranty costs” in the search box. The request produced a list of the types of warranties the company offers, with those having the highest current cost to serve at the top.

By clicking on individual items, he was able to get more details about these specific warranties. Within a few minutes, he had drilledin Florida.

Example: Immediate access to 900 million records
At the press conference in which the solution was unveiled, Vince Vloemans, director of global information management for Sara Lee , said that companyor the system to go live.”

Katrina Coyle, global information at Molson Coors , another beta tester, said users have been astounded at how fast the system serves up

“We have more than 900 million records [in our database], and our users can now get the information they want without worrying about the size of the database,” she said. “People used to go meetings with piles of paper and still have to do more research afterward before being able to make business decisions. Now, they just show up with this tool and they can make decisions immediately.”

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