How has it helped my organization?
In the past, customers - both internal and external - were crying for data towards the end or the beginning of month, for month-end reporting. Through the use of Business Intelligence reporting and scheduling features, these reports are generated and automatically sent to them according to a schedule. This has freed up countless hours spent performing the same tasks, month over month.
It also enables us to present data with Smart Objects that can be embedded within presentations and which automatically update when the presentations are run.
What is most valuable?
Depends on the use case. The reporting from SAP Business Objects Web Intelligence is amazing, and gives users the ability to quickly access data from existing universes and/or relevant data sources, without the need to involve a functional business analyst or financial analyst.
When it comes to visualizations and discovery, SAP Explorer lets the user deep-dive into the data from a visual standpoint.
What needs improvement?
The biggest area for improvement would be the dashboarding capabilities due to the recent change from Xcelsius to Dashboard Designer. This has created a gigantic ripple in many companies because the skill sets required are drastically different.
For how long have I used the solution?
More than five years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Minor at most. As with any application that presents data within a business, stability is critical to the success of the application and it's validity. Building failovers and redundancies around major functions, like accessing reports, data connectivity, and user security, ensures system stability. However, even with the most perfect system and its redundancies, any business intelligence application can run into issues if the data is bad.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Not really. The SAP Business Intelligence platform is a global solution that can be scaled both vertically and horizontally, based on company needs.
How are customer service and technical support?
SAP tech support is good. However, I prefer the use of the partners and communities like ASUG or SAPinsider to provide the support we need.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We previously used SQL Server Reporting Services because it was included with Microsoft Server and it was free. The reason we switched was because SSRS lacked the ability to do what we needed without involving IT.
How was the initial setup?
I always recommend using a partner or consultant to deploy SAP BI. Not because it's difficult to install, that part is actually pretty easy, but to properly configure and customize application services and toolsets.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Depending on your size, try to stick with SAP BusinessObjects BI Edge. Most people tend to overthink the licensing. Remember that one concurrent user means that one person can be performing a task at a given time. That does not mean that only one user can be on the system at a time, it means that only one person can be refreshing a report or designing a dashboard. There are tons of ways you can access your data or reports without consuming a license. I've seen cases where five concurrent licenses support thousands of users.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
I reviewed a whole bunch of them, everything under the sun.
What other advice do I have?
Get a partner or consultant to help you configure and customize your deployment. And remember that there's no additional charge for a Development environment license, so build an additional development server.