SAP Unveils OnDemand BI Solution For Mass Market

SAP is looking to the SMB segment after it offered a BI solution for users with relatively little experience of BI tools

Following its recent management upheavals, SAP has unveiled the SAP BusinessObjects BI OnDemand platform, for what it described as “casual BI (business intelligence) users currently underserved by products on the market.”

Using SAP BusinessObjects Explorer software, users can combine data from multiple sources and proceed to do an analysis or create a report.

SAP’s intention with the new offering, announced 24 February, is to provide a platform that not only is scalable, but also capable of being used by workers with relatively little experience with BI tools. It accesses data from both the cloud and on-premises, and is capable of drawing in data from SAP, Salesforce, and proprietary information uploaded from company databases; that data can then be utilised into reports and analysis.

“Current market trends show strong demand for SAAS BI tools that are easy to use and acquire, and IDC research expects the SaaS BI market to grow three times faster than the overall BI and analytics market over the next five years,” Dan Vesset, an analyst with IDC, wrote in a statement. “As organisations look for intuitive, cloud-based solutions that can empower their end-users, applications that supplement traditional BI functionality of query, reporting and analysis with support for workflow, search and collaboration will become increasingly attractive to them.”

SAP is planning three editions of the platform, which will be released later this year through the SAP PartnerEdge program. From a competitive standpoint, SAP BusinessObjects BI OnDemand will allow the company to offer a combined package of on-premises and on-demand business-intelligence needs, as opposed to customers building their own solution from multiple vendors.

SAP has centered its focus on the SMB sector as a potential source of growth, mirroring the competitive angle taken by other enterprise-software companies such as Oracle as they seek new revenue streams. Key SMB-centric products include Business ByDesign, SAP Business One and SAP Busines All-in-One.

SAP is also undergoing a management shakeup, with the naming of a new chief operating officer and the elevation of the executive vice president of SME (small and midsize enterprises) to the executive board. On 7 February, CEO Leo Apotheker announced his resignation, on the heels of the company announcing a 12 percent drop in operating income and a 9 percent drop in revenue for 2009.

Financial pressures and an increasingly cost-conscious focus on the part of many of SAP’s customers, acknowledged by Apotheker in a 14 January conference call, have led the company to take steps such as offering its flagship Business Suite 7 in modules without requiring customers to upgrade to the whole platform. SAP has also been partnering with companies such as Microsoft and IBM to help promote and sell its products.

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