The fourth version of SAP's BusinessObjects data analysis software, announced Wednesday, includes in-memory computing and support for mobile devices like the iPad.
The most notable advance for the latest BusinessObjects is the ability to perform in-memory computing, which can speed up analysis and make data more accessible. But all the advances in BusinessObjects4.0 -- user interfaces that incorporate the "friendly usability of social networking tools," support for multiple mobile devices and the ability to make use of structured and unstructured data simultaneously -- add up to SAP's claim that business intelligence can be as real-time and as gratifying as your social networking tools. The big hurdle is getting the average employee to use BI.
Dave Weisbeck, senior vice president for SAP's solution management, business intelligence and enterprise-information management, told Bloomberg BusinessWeek that "there's a lot of pent-up demand" for BI at the individual user level.
Within companies that have SAP's business-intelligence software, probably only about 10 percent to 15 percent of employees actually use it. The ability to use the analytics tool on mobile devices will make it more widely accepted, Weisbeck said in an interview.
SAP's expects to increase adoption on the bench by making BI tools that are more accessible and which operate like the social interfaces many of their customers already use.
New to the product suite, according to the SAP announcement:
- In-memory computing: Optimized for use on the SAP High Performance Analytic Appliance (HANA), which SAP unveiled in December. The company claims the software speeds BI analysis by storing large amounts of data in a computers memory, instead of retrieving from disk drives.
- Mobile BI on any device: Uses SAP's Sybase Unwired Platform and interactive visualizations to give users a "comprehensive mobile BI suite" to Apple's iPad, Google''s Android and Microsoft's Windows Phone 7. Samsung SDS and SAP announced last week a joint effort to bring business intelligence data to Android devices.
- Business and social data analysis: Text analysis to monitor, analyze and report sentiments and transaction in blogs, e-mails and social-networks.
- Event Insight: A newer software that helps users understand the business impact of events in faster than previously.
Timely data seems like a given for a customer paying the hefty price SAP charges for BI applications, but tools that look, feel and work like social applications could make more employees reliant on SAP’s services.