SAP Business Objects BI Reporting and Analysis Tools

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SAP BusinessObjects (BO) Business Intelligence offers different tools for reporting and analysis purpose. These tools provide full suite of Business Intelligence reporting solution. These reporting tools are purposely for different levels of user according to their business role and interactivity with the business data.

In this artcile, we would explain importance of these tools in Business Intelligence.

Crystal Reports – Crystal Reports is a thick client reporting tool for creating pixel-perfect, flexible and feature-rich reports which can be easily integrated to web or windows application. Crystal Reports can be published to web and viewed by user using InfoView portal.There are number of reporting tools available but the Crystal Reports provides better solution than the other reporting options as reporting is quick & easy. Easy and flexible reporting because Crystal report focuses on formatting as well as report development features whereas other reporting tools mainly focus on Report Analysis. It provides quick reporting solution as it can use JDBC, Flat Files, OLEDB or xml files as data source instead of reporting against complex Universes and putting time to manage and design universes. It also takes full advantage of Dimensional Modeling Techniques which allows database to model into Fact Tables.

  • Web Intelligence (WebI) – Web Intelligence is a powerful analysis tool for creating ad-hoc reporting. It allows business user to analyze data from data warehouse. The reports created in WebI (.WID format) are accessed through BO portal InfoView.There are different tools that provide relative functionality as WebI according to scenario need:

  • Desktop Intelligence (DeskI) – DeskI is an analysis and reporting tool to work with offline reporting and based on client-server architecture. But BusinessObjects encourage using more powerful WebI. The drawback with DeskI was that it had to be deployed to your desktop and was totally offline reporting tool. It has been replaced by Webintelligence and Webintelligence Rich Client.

  • WebI Rich Client- SAP introduces WebI Rich client to fill the DeskI functionality in WebI. It is a standalone Microsoft Windows Application to work with WebI documents offline without any InfoView connection and Application server installed. So business user can now work with WebI online and offline.

  • Interactive Analysis – Interactive Analysis (IA) is a version of Web Intelligence and build for the customers who do not need the entire BOE platform deployment for ad-hoc query and analysis capabilities. Interactive Analysis tool is build to provide standalone solution to customers. It is capable to connect to BOE but that is not its ultimate purpose. In addition, you can build standalone universes based on your specific requirements, by connecting to different databases.Interactive Analysis installation contains two components namely Interactive Analysis and Universe Designer. Interactive Analysis is so flexible in data analysis that user can analyze data in different dimensions and in specific need both in online and offline capability.

  • Dashboard Design (Xcelsius)– Dashboard Design previously known as Xcelsius is a graphical visualization tool. Using Adobe Flash Technology it enables to create highly rich interactive presentation. The Dashboard created is highly interactive and self explanatory with charts and graphs and visualize spontaneous response on what-if analysis.Xcelsius uses its source data on excel spreadsheet and can consume web service created in QaaWS. Xcelsius can use Web Intelligence report, Crystal Report Tables or Universe Query (via QaaWS) to retrieve business data.

  • Universe– Universe provides a semantic layer to the non-technical users to access the business data. Universe is representation of corporate data that hide the complexity of business rules and relations in the database. It encapsulates the data and provides a context to data so that business user can understand what data they are accessing without worrying about database, data source, and data structure. It maps what business user speaks onto what database designer understands and translates the business terms into the business rules. Its ability is to unify the multiple data source and give it meaning for the user. It defines how different tables underlying database can have relations and what sorts of information they can provide to business user.Universe Designer Tool is used to create universe file which is .UNV format and has ability of Drag and Drop SQL query generation.This file contains the connection parameters for database middleware and SQL structure to map database tables, columns, objects and database functions.

  • InfoView– InfoView is a web interface or a portal from where business user can do certain activities like accessing the reports created in different reporting tools, report scheduling and managing, modifying objects, setting InfoView preferences, browsing the report documents in browser and exporting documents in MS Excel.In new release of SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 suite, InfoView is replaced by BI Launch Pad which offers enhanced filtering, navigation and search option.

  • Live Office– SAP BusinessObjects Live Office is software to integrate Business Intelligence (BI) with Microsoft Office environment. It enables business user to access corporate live data into the PowerPoint, Excel, word documents. The importance of Live Office is that it access the corporate live data which is secure, refreshable, sharable .So with Live office user get trusted, accurate, and most up-to-date information. Live office consumes data that are created and managed in universe, WebI or Crystal Reports.

  • BusinessObjects Explorer– SAP BusinessObjects Explorer was originally known as Polestar (a Business Objects application).It provides a search engine like functionality to enable all users to look for data relevant to their Business. It is web based search and exploration application which empowers the business user to search business information directly against BW. By simply putting keywords to search field for relevant information, the search result lists all the available data set that contains the search string. This data set is called Information Space. The exploration view can be analyzed, saved or shared .Exploration View can be easily exported to a Web Intelligence Documents. So BusinessObject Explorer provides a way to explore correct and trusted data with the speed.

  • QaaWS– Query as a Web Service is BusinessObjects client-side tool to create the web service and to publish them on web. The web service can be consumed by different BusinessObjects tools like Xcelsius and Crystal reports. QaaWS provides simple wizard to create Universe Query which can be publish web service.

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By PB Reddy (on behalf of SAP Consulting Team)

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