The release of SAP NetWeaver 7.1, marked the end of major enhancements to the SAP Business Explorer (SAP BEx) tools. Although these tools will continue to be supported under SAP’s maintenance policy, SAP’s strategic focus and development efforts will be placed on the Business Objects BI solutions. SAP is encouraging customers to adopt the Business Objects’ business intelligence platform to meet their needs for more sophisticated and strategic BI solutions.

SAP’s go-forward product for dashboarding is BusinessObjects Xcelsuis, together with BusinessObjects Dashboard Builder – a dashboard layout tool that complements BusinessObjects Xclesius in building out dashboard projects. After release 7.1 of SAP NetWeaver, the SAP BEx Web Application Designer will no longer be developed, although it will continue to be supported under maintenance.

Enterprise reporting
SAP’sproduct for formatted reporting going forward is now BusinessObjects Crystal Reports. BusinessObjects Crystal Reports is already tightly integrated with the SAP NetWeaver BI stack as well as with SAP Business Suite, allowing customers to unlock key data stored in these backend applications. Before the acquisition, SAP’s offering in the way of formatted reporting was the SAP BEx Report Designer. The last release of this tool will be shipped with SAP NetWeaver 7.1. SAP will continue to support the SAP BEx Report Designer under maintenance.

Ad-hoc query and reporting
With BusinessObjects Web Intelligence, SAP now offers a web-based ad-hoc query and reporting tool. Also, with the addition of BusinessObjects Polestar, SAP now offers customers simple and fast ‘Google-like’ search access to relevant data via an intuitive interface. Both of these tools are available as part of Business Objects’ business intelligence platform.

OLAP analysis
SAP’s offerings in this area are the SAP BEx Analyzer (Microsoft Excel-based) and SAP BEx Web Analyzer tools. Business Objects’ OLAP offering is BusinessObjects Voyager, which provides an intuitive user interface with seamless guided analysis. Integration of BusinessObjects Voyager and the two SAP OLAP tools has already begun, under the codename “Pioneer”.

The first version of this jointly developed product will combine the user interface of BusinessObjects Voyager with the OLAP capabilities of the SAP tools. “Pioneer” will be available for BusinessObjects Enterprise platform in 2010. SAP will continue to support SAP BEx Analyzer and SAP BEx Web Analyzer tools going forward as SAP NetWeaver base OLAP tools.

Data quality and master data management
SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management allows customers to consolidate and harmonize their master data within heterogeneous IT landscapes. BusinessObjects Data Quality allows them to identify, correct, and prevent data quality issues – to keep enterprise data consistent. The two tools are already loosely integrated; tighter integration is planned through 2010.

Extract, transform, load (ETL)
Business Objects offers SAP customers robust ETL capabilities with BuinsessObjects Data Integrator, which enables exploration, extraction, transformation, and delivery of data anywhere, at any frequency. It can be used by organizations for any small or large ETL project; for example, for loading non-SAP data into SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence.

SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer
SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer (SAP NetWeaver VC) will continue to be an integral part of SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment (SAP NetWeaver CE). SAP will continue to enhance SAP NetWeaver VC by allowing customers to embed business intelligence into business processes via composite applications. Furthermore, between 2009 and 2010, customers will be able to use SAP NetWeaver VC to embed and call BusinessObjects Crystal Reports, BusinessObjects Xcelsius, and the planned “Pioneer” product.

A single platform
The Business Objects BI solutions described above run on BusinessObjects Enterprise, a single integrated BI platform. The platform allows thousands of users – both inside and outside the company – to manage, distribute, and secure their reports, dashboards, and so on. Furthermore, this same BI platform directly leverages components of SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence, as well as SAP Business Suite applications. This, SAP and Business Objects insist, means that SAP customers should continue to build out their data warehousing and information management projects as usual.