SAP has launched a new business intelligence (BI) offering for casual users that it claims will tie together all of its software-as-a-service BI products into one offering.BusinessObjects BI OnDemand will allow customers to create BI charts that include data, reports and analysis from SAP's full client design tools, such as Business Objects Edge and Business Objects Enterprise, using desktop tools such as Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and cloud applications like Salesforce.SAP demonstrated in a video how easy the tool is to use. Customers can log-in without installing anything, choose any data they want to use for analysis and then click on a tab that combines the data with another data set. Customers can then click on tabs that visualise the data, or share it with another user through email or a URL link.The visualisation capabilities are possible because the application is based partly on SAP BusinessObjects Explorer. Users can view trends in data and select different types of charts to visually understand the information.Users performing more in-depth analysis can use advanced visualisation capabilities that are provided through SAP’s Xcelsius tools.Users can also load their dashboard with any data they want to monitor, whether created by them or someone else in the organisation, through dashboard technology from the Business Objects portfolio.The reporting capabilities are provided through SAP's flagship Crystal Reports product, as seen in the video demonstration.Ovum analyst Sarah Burnett suggested that this is likely to give the product a bigger chance of success, taking into account SAP's trouble so far launching workable SaaS solutions.Forrester analyst Holger Kisker said that the product is an important milestone for SAP because it shows the company taking the cloud seriously and executing on its roadmap. It also shows SAP taking advantage of its strongest growing revenue arm.SAP has boasted that the tool is so intuitive that even people with no previous BI experience can easily work through the processes of accessing, exploring, visualising and sharing data. Business users will be able to provide customers, partners and employees with quick access to data, the firm claimed. SAP is planning three editions of BusinessObjects BI OnDemand, ranging from a version with limited storage to one with more advanced capabilities and the ability to handle larger data volumes.The more limited version will be available free so customers can understand its value, said Business Objects BI OnDemand senior director of marketing, Holly Simmons.The more advanced versions will contain data warehousing capabilities and more advanced analytics, she added.Simmons said the significance of the product is that it will be available to more casual BI users. “We are bringing BI to the 75 per cent of users who have never had it to date,” she explained.“Large enterprises may have had an on-premise version of our BI software but now they can bring it to more users. The product fulfills a key component in our SaaS strategy, to bring on-demand enterprise resource planning software to companies of all sizes."Business Objects BI OnDemand will be available directly from SAP as well as from its channel partners, Simmons said.
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