How does SAP BI compare with other suites, 'best of breed' tools?

In this Ask the Expert column, Ethan Jewett explains the biggest difference between SAP BI and 'best of breed' tools, as well as other suites.

What's the biggest difference between SAP BI and other BI tools, including those deemed 'best of breed?'

There aren't a huge number of BI suites, but those that do exist (Microstrategy, Pentaho, etc) are fairly competitive with the SAP Business Objects BI Suite. Many of the leading BI tools, including "best of breed" vendors like Tableau or QlikView lead SAP in some areas, but fail to cover other capabilities of the SAP BI Suite.

For more on SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence:

Get Ethan Jewett's more in-depth comparison of SAP BI and third-party tools

Read more about the stack advantages of deploying SAP BOBJ

Learn about SAP BusinessObjects EIM 4.0's new Data Services features

Learn how integration with SAP BOBJ and SAP BW is getting easier

SAP's biggest advantage in the BI tools space is, unsurprisingly, probably integration with SAP applications including its SAP Business Suite and Enterprise Performance Management, or EPM, tools. The breadth of tools in the BI suite and the semantic layer concept are also advantages, though the semantic layer approach is not unique to SAP.

The biggest disadvantages SAP struggles with compared to other tools are user experience and usability. Some of this is related to the challenge of keeping so many tools in sync, but I'd like to see SAP do a better job rising to meet this challenge. Mobile enablement and visualization quality are also areas where SAP has failed to lead the pack, but we're seeing signs of improvement there.

In the end, lacking clear differentiators, the discussion of the best BI tools or suite to use needs to be focused on individual customers' goals.

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