What is most valuable?
The SAP BusinessObjects product suite is made of different products. This review refers to the Web Intelligence product.
The user friendliness of the interface enables non-IT-literate persons to create their own queries without need SQL knowledge, and that has been the case a very long time. (I started to use BO in 1990.)
How has it helped my organization?
It gives power to the user, who can create his/her own queries without needing IT services, therefore leading to savings. However, it must be noted that the semantic layer (Universe) must be built carefully by IT staff with the full collaboration from beginning to end of future key users in order to be intuitive and user friendly. The training given to the user community and the documentation is also extremely important, so that the users know what objects they can combine together.
What needs improvement?
Since I started using BO, the desktop version gave way to the web version. The beginning of the web version (Web Intelligence) was a little bit chaotic, with some key functionalities present in the desktop version forgotten in the web version (like custom groupings, double scaling...) However, these functionalities are finally back. I think SAP should listen more and better to its customers.
For how long have I used the solution?
I have 25+ years experience of working with SAP BusinessObjects, combining SAP and non-SAP data in BO and I also have started to use QlikView and roll it out in our organization. I hold the function of BI director now and develop an entire reporting strategy for a multinational organization.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
I encountered stability issues. The beginning of the web version was very chaotic. It look a long time for Web Intelligence to open, refresh and so on. We regret that versions that are initially released do not seem to be well finished (a lot of bugs), and that a lot of patching is necessary to get to a stable version (our experience for BOXIR3, BI4 and so on).
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
I did not encounter any scalability issues. It is easy to deploy (weblink). But in order to be able to use the query panel, users must ensure that the Java component is installed.
How is customer service and technical support?
Technical support is quite OK.
How was the initial setup?
Initial setup is straightforward.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
I cannot give any advice on this, as I am not involved at all in this issue, but depending on the licensing model used, this product can be quite expensive.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We considered Oracle Discoverer, MS BI, but BO was chosen for its flexibility of usage.
What other advice do I have?
The reporting tool is easy to use and implement. Overall, you should consider how this tool is going to be implemented in your organization, and what added value it will bring to your organisation (e.g., do you have a lot of people doing a lot of reports in Excel). Finally, a decision whether or not to use BusinessObjects Web Intelligence should not be taken on its own but rather as a part of how information is managed in the organization.