SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform (BIP) is an extensible web-based reporting system which can be used to report against various SAP and non-SAP data source. The tool is a core building block of SAP’s reporting landscape and longterm roadmap. The BI platform itself does not have data persistence layer, i.e. does not offer any classic data warehouse capabilities. It does however host different types of reports which can be executed directly on the platform and which read the data on the fly from various connected systems, such as:
SAP Business Warehouse (BW)
SAP Business Planning & Consolidation (BPC)
SAP ERP & SAP S/4HANA
3rd party databases and OLAP solutions
The platform runs on a JAVA-based application server which can be installed on various platforms. Single-sign on capabilities are available to simplify the authentication process for installations with heterogeous data sources. A transport mechanism to push reports from the devleoipmtn environment into the production environment is also part of the solution. The BI platform is the back-end of choice for hosting SAP Design Studio and SAP Lumira content. Sophisticated scheduling and distribution mechanisms support push scenarios and email distribution of reports.
SAP BusinessObjects BI platform ships with a set of recognized reporting tools which can be used for analysis and visualization purposes. While some tools require a client installation for report creation and maintenace other tools are completely web-based (i.e. zero footprint during design time and run time). All reports generated with these tools can be started from the central web page called BI Launchpad. Some tools also offer write-back capabilities which are relevant for planning scenarios.
Crystal Reports is the de-facto standard for highly formatted reporting. It is avialble in different editions. The Enterprise Edition is tighly integrated with the BI platform. Reports can be executed via the Lauch Pad.
SBO Web Intelligence is typically used for ad-hoc reporting of data from heterogeous systems. The tool is completely web-based and allows users to create reports in an intuitive way.
Xcelsius is a visualization tool which can be used to build attractive dashboards and interactive reports. Xcelsius generates flash applications which can be embedded into Crystal Reports, office documents and web sites. The tool can connect to various data sources to retrieve data online.
SBO Voyager is a web based analysis tool which offers OLAP capabilities (pivot table). It can connect to SAP Netweaver BW cubes and various other data sources and is intuitive to use.
LiveOffice is a plugin for the Microsoft Ofiice suite and allows users to create office documents with data originating from a BOE data source. The data embedded in the documents can easily be refreshed. For example LiveOffice can be used to create a board presentation containing the month end financial key figures which will be refreshed each month.
The BI platform offers a semantic layer by means of Universes. A universe (re-)combines information from the connected data source from a reporting persective. This simplifies the development of consistent reports whch run on complex data sources. Additional business logic can also be incoporated into a universe, i.e. to calculate additional KPIs. Authorizations are being defined on a universe level to restrict data access. Universes are maintained by means of the Information Design Tool and are stored on the BI platform. The reporting tools can either be connected directly to supported SAP sources or can be connected to a universe which governs the data access rules.