SAP Business Warehouse Review

Provides rapid responses but needs better reporting and pattern/exception detection

What is our primary use case?

It's fast for building solutions, but once you have built them it's not that easy to get the answers you want. Many of our users are downloading files to Excel and tools like it and creating their reports there. I don't like it, so we're thinking about a reporting solution that works better than SAP BW.

How has it helped my organization?

The key element in this solution is its rapid response. If you have a question about prices, buyers, customers, providers, or services, you need the answer in a minute or two. That's the key benefit for us that a solution like BW gives us.

What is most valuable?

We are currently in a basic stage of analytics and the first goal we have is to make sure the numbers are correct. BW has some features that help you to build factors and ETL in such a way that it's easy to get to correct responses. That's the number one condition that you have to have in an analytic solution.

What needs improvement?

One of our requirements is the ability to easily get answers regarding trends and exceptions. In BW, it is not that easy to get such information. I expect better trend and exception detection, better pattern detection. When I think about the next generation of analytics solutions, I think of a powerful data mining solution with the data that we have now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It works well enough. We don't have a lot of stability problems. That is not the problem for us. Reporting is the problem for us.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is good for us. We don't have scalability problems because, with the line of servers that we are using now, we can scale in a factor of 100 and still have no problems with it.

How are customer service and technical support?

We haven't used technical support in about two years so I don't think I can give a fair answer to this question.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We were using another world-class ERP solution. When we switched to the SAP solution, we were thinking we had to have rapid solution-building tools for SAP. It was very easy to think the SAP solutions, such as business content solutions, could be used to build analytic solutions for us. We were using Cognos at that time, but we stop using it because it was hard to build solutions with SAP as the data source.

We take into account the prestige and longterm relations with the vendor during our selection process.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was good enough. I wouldn't say straightforward, because we took about a month to set up the server, processes, tools, and the software. For me, one month does not signify a straightforward process. Maybe it's because we are using iSeries from IBM and it's not a very popular architecture. So in part, it was our fault too because we are using that line of servers.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We had Oracle and SAP on our short list, because we had a lot to build in a short time. We figured that with those vendors we would find enough human capital and knowledge to solve the problems that we might have. Of the two providers that we had on our shortlist, we got the best answers from SAP. Oracle wasn't good enough for us.

What other advice do I have?

I rate this solution a seven out of 10. You can start quickly but, when you have to get a little more detailed, when you have to change something, when you have to solve problems, it's not that easy. It's easy to start but evolving is not that easy.

To make it a 10 out of 10, SAP would have to have better tools for reporting. There is a lot of focus on boards and graphics and those kinds of features, but they are tools for newcomers. You don't have machine-learning tools that you can easily connect to your data. You have to download the data to a CSV or a text file, and then you have to analyze it with something like R or SPSS.

My advice is that SAP will give you a fast start, but in two to four years you will have to go fishing for another solution for sophisticated users who will not get enough from the SAP tool.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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