SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform Review
Bottom Line: Get the data foundation in shape first prior to implementing a reporting tool.


Valuable Features:

Flexibility and 'integratability'.

Improvements to My Organization:

Can integrate the reference services of a metadata repository. Saves a ton of maintenance and ensures Data Quality.

Room for Improvement:

Performance, but they all have room for this. Nevertheless, performance is highly dependent on data architecture and design as well as server capability. Far less so on the reporting tool that can fetch results; set once and re-use over several 'reports'.

Use of Solution:

I have been using the solution since 1998.

Deployment Issues:

Confessions ... this is hardware and networking and unix. All of the server based reporting products are complex to install and beyond my skills. Adapting these products to the foundational environments is always adventure-prone but most vendors provide substantial help in installing.

Stability Issues:

With most of these products, BO, too, instability arises often when resources are challenged. So, in general, planning for capacity processing is a good way to keep systems stable.

Scalability Issues:

BO has had 1000's of individuals in organizations running BO when they want to. Most toolsets address scalability.

Previous Solutions:

I am a consultant; even if I advise changing BI reporting toolsets, I do so reluctantly. It is more involved than at first glance, particularly if you have a user base. To date, I have not encountered a situation where I would advise changing BI toolsets that have some traction in the organization. At least not without a plan.

Implementation Team:

Strongly recommend a vendor team for the initial period. Make sure they interface heavily with network, DB and DW folks.

ROI:

ROI for the reporting product alone, as a component in a whole stack of things contributing to ROI, is in my view a minor contributor. How reports are developed and cast, the underlying data structures, data quality efforts, etc... these are the major contributors to ROI, not to mention the comprehension of the report viewer.

Cost and Licensing Advice:

This can vary from site to site. Depends greatly on folks at the company and on the licensing deal worked out.

Other Advice:

Category leaders have their strengths and weaknesses but as seen from the lens of the person using the tool. Some may want ease of use ... others a full-blown suite of DML tools. From this perspective, BO is as good as any of the other leading tools for reports. If anything, BO is great at controlling the user's interface eg highly user friendly capable. It does not come out of the box that way, but a competent BO wizard can make that happen on balance easier than other products. Finally, BO supports conserving server resources better than most. BI solutions are not about the tool. Any solution concerning the presentation of information has to focus on the business requirements and then a corresponding data foundation. Getting these is often a challenge at several levels and so I understand that there is this hope that maybe the toolset can make up for a lack of clear specifications. Bottom Line: Get the data foundation in shape first prior to implementing a reporting tool.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.

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