SAP Revamps Analysis and Reporting Tool

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) giant SAP America Inc. (www.sap.com) was caught napping to some extent by the business intelligence revolution. Over the course of the past two years, the company has struggled to catch up. With the introduction of a revamped version 2.0 release of its SAP Business Information Warehouse reporting and analysis tool, SAP hopes to deliver a robust business intelligence solution that also leverages its mySAP.com information portal technology.

"SAP at first was criticized for offering a closed system, nobody could get access to it, because it had a very complex file structure and wasn’t exactly based on standard SQL," explains Mike Schiff, director of data-warehousing strategies at Current Analysis Inc. (www.currentanalysis.com).

Moreover, Schiff says, SAP’s first attempt at a business analysis and reporting warehouse solution -- the SAP Reporting Warehouse -- was a "disaster." As a result, SAP had to start from scratch, unveiling Business Information Warehouse in 1999 with a promise that the product would gain additional features and functionality as it matured. "The bottom line is that when this thing first appeared, the understanding was that it was going to get better with every release."

Because it uses SAP’s role-based mySAP.com workplace portals, nobody can say SAP Business Warehouse 2.0 is a closed solution. As a component of mySAP.com, Business Warehouse 2.0 provides companies with an integrated view of their business processes and can be customized to meet the information needs of employees, customers, and other users. To that end, Business Warehouse 2.0 ships with more than 75 user roles already integrated into the mySAP.com Workplace, in addition to about 500 predefined queries that can enable customers to perform tasks quickly and effectively.

Business Warehouse’s integration with mySAP.com isn’t window dressing. According to SAP representatives, the mySAP.com Workplace portals tie together the disparate business processes -- such as market intelligence, sales execution, definition and pricing, customer history, and profile and buying patterns -- that Business Warehouse subsequently reports on and analyzes.

Schiff says it is this reporting and analysis component oriented around an information portal strategy that’s been missing from SAP’s vaunted ERP business applications infrastructure.

"The entire SAP product suite helps you run your business, but the Business Warehouse component facilitates the reporting and analysis of what goes on in your business," Schiff explains.

Of its analysis and reporting capabilities, Klaus Kreplin, vice president of business information warehouse development at SAP, says Business Warehouse 2.0 product is a critical tool for business intelligence.

"Through mySAP.com, SAP Business Warehouse makes it possible for companies to achieve e-business intelligence," Kreplin says. "Companies are able to use the same business intelligence infrastructure to develop internal efficiencies and collaborate more effectively with external members of their value chain. SAP BW plays a central role in helping companies to implement e-business strategies through easy access to better information."

One high-profile early adopter that SAP highlighted at the Business Warehouse 2.0 announcement was Telus Communications Inc. (www.telus.ca), the second largest communications company in Canada. Starting in Jan. 2000, Telus implemented a Business Warehouse 2.0 solution running in conjunction with its mySAP.com portal infrastructure to serve about 250 users.

"At Telus we went live with SAP Business Warehouse in Jan. 2000. This was completed in only three and one-half months for over 250 users, and the demand for SAP BW is exceeding all expectations," says Owen Wiberg, vice president of Process Integration at Telus. "SAP Business Warehouse, together with mySAP.com Workplace, will provide our employees with personalized, easy-to-use access and presentation of operational and strategic management information."