I have an MBA in marketing. If I wanted to venture into the world of SAP BI, would ABAP knowledge be necessary...
ABAP is not mandatory to learn SAP BI/BW, but it definitely will help you. The majority of the code in SAP BI is written in ABAP and knowing ABAP will help you learn SAP BI better. There are several areas in SAP BI, like transformation rules (update/transfer rules prior to SAP BI 7.0) and user exits, which requires ABAP coding.
If you are not knowledgeable, you will have to depend on ABAP developers to get the job done. For the same reason, knowing ABAP will give you a leg up on the competition with other consultants who are not experienced in ABAP.
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