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Holding experience in ABAP, do I go SAP XI or BI?

I hold a certification in ABAP and have been working with it for last two months. Can you tell me any information regarding the growth of the SAP XI? Which is the better option for a beginner in ABAP: SAP BW or SAP XI?

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Well, the first thing for you to take into account is that SAP is now calling XI PI (short for Process Integration). The first step in staying marketable in SAP is always keeping up on the latest product name changes and shifts. I like both PI and BI (formerly BW) as a consulting focus, and I also like them both in conjunction with ABAP (and Java/XML as well). I guess I like the ABAP-BI combination a little better than ABAP-PI. I'll explain my reasoning this way: BI has a much better level of market acceptance on SAP customer sites. Yes, some SAP customers still use third party analytics not from SAP, but more and more are turning to BI for both reporting and decision support analytics. You could say that BI is the hottest area in SAP consulting currently, and the surveys I have done on certainly support that. PI, on the other hand, is less entrenched on SAP customer sites and also still relatively unproven.

This means that there is currently less demand for PI skills, and its demand relative to supply that ultimately dictates the marketability of a particular consulting niche. PI appears to have a strong future because it is going to serve as the messaging and integration hub for NetWeaver and eSOA going forward. But there are other middleware and integration options from other vendors, so SAP has still has work to do convincing its customer base that PI is the integration hub they should be investing in. I do expect PI to be successful, and I think in the long run, it will be a nice consulting niche, but in the short term, I would go BI over PI. Once you ad BI, you may want to pursue MDM (Master Data Management), which ties in nicely with BI and also puts you even closer to eSOA, PI, and other NetWeaver components.

This was first published in February 2008

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