SAP has unveiled version 4.0 of its BI and EIM solutions, leveraging social networking and mobile devices for more pervasive business intelligence.
NEW YORK-SAP used a high-profile presentation to unveil
version 4.0 of its business intelligence and enterprise information
management solutions from its SAP BusinessObjects platform, in a bid to
compete more heartily in the enterprise against Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and
other tech giants. In keeping with current trends, the updates emphasize
support for mobile devices and information from social networks.
"Being able to engage people, and react instantly to a
problem or opportunity, is what we're here to talk about," Steve Lucas, SAP's
general manager and global head of business analytics, told an audience
gathered in a Times Square hotel. "You want information now, immediately, as it
How people consume their business intelligence has changed,
he added. Now, the paradigm is shifting toward mobile. Hence, SAP's latest
offerings include support for devices such as the BlackBerry Torch, the
upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet and the iPad.
The rise of social networking has also complicated life for
any number of businesses, whose short-term fortunes can sometimes rise or fall
based on a single Tweet gone viral. Many of SAP's rivals, notably
Salesforce.com, have introduced features into their CRM platforms and other
offerings that allow employees to monitor Twitter and similar services in real-time.
SAP's newest software not only lets the user monitor Tweets
in real-time, but also extract more granular information about the Tweets and
their creators, presumably for later data-mining. In addition to this merging
of business intelligence with social-media streams, the software's other new
features include real-time in-memory computing, which can rapidly crunch high
volumes of data for business insights.
New software released as part of version 4.0 includes SAP
BusinessObjects Data Services, which helps consolidate and manipulate data
sources for improved quality; SAP BusinessObjects Information Steward, which
gives end users the ability to monitor and rate their data sources' completeness,
accuracy and consistency; SAP BusinessObjects Event Insight, which lets people
monitor the impact of business events throughout a network; and SAP businessObjects
Business Intelligence, which offers self-service access to information.
SAP faces substantial competition from a number of rivals.
In addition to Oracle, which is pushing business-intelligence applications in
the context of its integrated hardware-software stack, companies ranging from
Microsoft to IBM and Salesforce.com have their own designs on business IT.
But SAP has taken aggressive steps of its own to counteract
that competitive pressure. In early 2010, the company underwent a substantial
management shakeup, naming a new chief operating officer and elevating the
executive vice president of SME (small and midsize enterprise) to the executive
board, a sign of increased focus on that particular business segment. That seismic
activity climaxed in February 2010 with the resignation of CEO Leo Apotheker.
SAP followed those internal moves with a big external one, acquiring
Sybase for $5.8 billion
. Almost immediately, SAP began promising that it
would use assets from Sybase, a 26-year-old producer of relational database
software and mobile data management products, to deliver a mobile
business-applications platform based on open standards, and capable of running
on many different mobile devices and operating systems.
In an August 2010 meeting with industry analysts, customers
and media, SAP executives confirmed that product development with Sybase's
assets would focus on three areas: enterprise mobility, business analytics and
enterprise information management. The overall goal would be to make SAP "the
only company n the world to deliver the full suite of enterprise software and
next-generation business intelligence on any device at any time," according to
SAP Co-CEO Bill McDermott.
Many of those Sybase assets apparently found their way into
this newest release, suggesting that SAP plans to fully tackle its rivals' own
moves towards mobility for business users.