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SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 hits the streets

Mark Brunelli, News Editor

SAP BusinessObjects 4.0, the long-awaited update to German business application giant SAP’s flagship business intelligence (BI) and analytics software

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platform, was officially launched today at a press event in New York.

The newly updated BusinessObjects 4.0 portfolio is fully integrated with SAP’s enterprise information management (EIM) products and offers, among other new features, an improved user interface, improved mobility, social networking tools and the ability to gain meaningful insight from unstructured data, according to SAP.

SAP also released six new analytics software products that are geared toward users in specific industries, including media, health care, oil and gas, insurance, life sciences and the public sector.

The BusinessObjects 4.0 release represents the first major update to the platform in over three years. SAP acquired BusinessObjects SA in 2008 and quickly positioned its technology as the foundation of its then-emerging BI software strategy.

The combination of SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (BW) and SAP BusinessObjects revenue accounts for the biggest share of the SAP BI platform market, according to Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc. But despite that success, Gartner says technology professionals are often confused by SAP’s BI product roadmap.

“SAP BusinessObjects customers that have had inquiries with Gartner analysts have expressed increasing concern about the BusinessObjects road map, given the product changes to support optimizations with the SAP Business Applications and NetWeaver BW products, and the perceived higher cost of ownership,” Gartner BI research vice president Rita Sallam wrote in a recent report. “These customers have also told us that the migration, implementation and integration choices can be confusing.”

The report also said that SAP has gotten poor reviews for support, but added that the company has been taking steps to remedy those concerns.

“Our market survey data shows that ratings for SAP's customer experience for its BI platform product, which includes ratings for support, software quality and for sales experience, are the lowest of any vendor in the survey,” Sallam wrote. “This is the fourth year in a row for low scores. SAP has put in place programs to address customer issues with support and to address, more broadly, the customer experience.”

New features in SAP BusinessObjects 4.0

Several applications have been fully updated as part of the general overhaul of SAP’s BI platform. They include SAP Crystal Reports, SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards, SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence and SAP StreamWork.

SAP information management software products have also been updated, including SAP BusinessObjects Data Services and BusinessObjects Information Steward. The former helps users with data integration and data profiling, while the latter gives users the ability to monitor source systems for data quality and consistency issues.

Company officials say the BusinessObjects 4.0 platform also integrates with SAP’s enterprise performance management and governance, risk and compliance applications.

According to SAP, some of the other key features of BusinessObjects 4.0 include:

  • In-memory computing: Optimized for use on the SAP High Performance Analytic Appliance (HANA), SAP says this feature allows users to quickly analyze huge loads of information.

  • Mobile BI on any device: SAP is using its Sybase Unwired Platform to give users a “comprehensive mobile BI suite.”

  • Event Insight: A newer application that helps organizations understand the business impact of specific events.

  • Business and social data analysis: SAP a new semantic layer and common authoring technology will simplify ad hoc analysis.

“This release is powered by in-memory computing,” Vishal Sikka, an SAP executive board member who focuses on technology and innovation, said in a statement. “For the first time we have the ability to analyze vast amounts of data with amazing speed, further improving user experience and laying the foundation for new real-time business.”

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