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What is the career and market outlook for SAP BW?

What is the future career outlook for SAP BW? Are there many opportunities in this market? SAP career and certification expert Jon Reed answers these questions and more from an inquiring SAP professional.


I have five years of IT experience in mainframes, VB, ASP, SQL, and data warehousing (Microsoft Analysis Services). I am planning to move into an SAP arena, perhaps SAP BW. Can you please advise me if this will be a good move?

What companies have good projects in SAP BW? How does the BW market look in the coming years? And will there be more available positions as a functional or technical consultant in SAP BW? I am planning to move into functional side.

I like the market outlook for BW because so many SAP customers are using it -- and not just for reporting, but for analysis, and long range business intelligence. It sounds to me like you have a good skills background for BW based on your technical and data warehousing skills. I do know a handful of successful BW consultants, but these folks are generally "subject matter experts" in terms of how to design InfoCubes with certain kinds of data, such as financial data. However, these folks are in the minority.

Most BW folks are either "techno-functional" or technical in their focus. And we can get even more specific on the technical side, drawing some type of line between ABAP-BW types and BW/Basis types that specialize more on the installation side. But there are always folks that wear a number of hats; in fact, I feel the best BW technical consultants are pretty well-rounded technically, and understand everything from web-based reporting in BW to designing and populating InfoCubes to BW security. If those types of skills interest you, by all means pursue it. I can understand your desire to move from a technical to a functional role, but I don't think that would be the best way for you to approach BW. I think you'll have more success breaking into BW as a data warehousing expert who is good at understanding the business needs involved in data warehousing as well as the technical side of designing and implementing such systems.

Remember, to break into a competitive SAP arena, you can't just abandon your previous skills because you are sick of using them -- you need to be willing to utilize your previous skills to make yourself more appealing to SAP customers, and then over time you may be able to transition your skills to the functional side more and more. But I think most people don't get to use the exact skills they wanted, it's always a negotiation between you and the employer. Finally, as for your question about which companies are implementing BW, that is a million dollar question. That information is pretty closely guarded, but I'm not sure you need the names of all the companies off the bat. If you look through SearchSAP's own job listings, you'll see a lot of BW jobs to apply to, and so even if the end client's name is not always made public, it won't stop you from applying. It takes years to build up a good database of SAP companies, but you don't need that to get your first break.

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