BACKGROUND IMAGE: iSTOCK/GETTY IMAGES
SAP BusinessObjects BI (SAP BO, also historically BOBJ) is a reporting and analytics business intelligence (BI) platform aimed at business users. It consists of a number of reporting applications that allow users to discover data, perform analysis to derive insights and create reports that visualize the insights.
SAP BO is intended to make reporting and analysis simple for business users so they can create reports and perform processes like predictive analytics without needing the input of data analysts.
SAP BusinessObjects BI applications use drag-and-drop functions and allow users to search and analyze data from a wide variety of sources. SAP BO is a front-end BI platform, so the data is not stored at the application level, but is integrated from the various back-end sources.
SAP BusinessObjects BI applications
SAP BO comprises of a number of reporting and analysis applications that all have their own identity, purpose and function. These applications include:
- Web Intelligence (Webi), which is a web browser tool that allows users to perform analysis, produce formatted reports and distribute the reports on SAP BO or export them to PDF or Excel.
- Crystal Reports, which is a data analytics and reporting tool aimed at individual users or small and medium-size businesses (SMBs). Users can create dynamic reports from a variety of data sources and deliver them to different formats. The reports can be accessed online or offline, from applications, portals or mobile devices.
- SAP Business Objects Dashboards (formerly known as Xcelsius), which is a data visualization tool that allows users to create custom dashboards from reports. These can include interactive charts, gauges and widgets.
- Query as a Web Service (QaaWS), which is a tool that allows users to create and publish web services that can be consumed in Crystal Reports and SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards, as well as other software applications.
- SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, which is self-service data exploration tool that enables users to search through large volumes of data from various sources and then create data visualizations that can be shared across organizations.
- SAP Lumira, which is a self-service data discovery and visualization tool that allows users to find and analyze relevant business data and create custom interactive dashboards and analytics applications.
SAP BusinessObjects BI can also integrate certain functions with SAP HANA.
SAP BusinessObjects Universe
The core of SAP BO is the SAP BusinessObjects Universe, which are layers of metadata that integrate the back-end data with the front-end application layer.
A universe allows users to interact with data without having to know what database it comes from, the database structure or where the data is stored. The universe does not store any data itself, but is a metadata layer that contains information about the objects in the data source, which is used to generate SQL queries that retrieve the actual data.
Origins of SAP BusinessObjects
The original company known as BusinessObjects was founded in 1990 in Paris. It became a large and respected BI software seller.
In 2007, SAP acquired BusinessObjects for $6.78 billion, the largest acquisition SAP had ever made at the time. Initially, the former company operated independently, but BusinessObjects became a division of SAP in 2009 and the products came under the SAP BusinessObjects brand.
The purchase of BusinessObjects increased SAP's foothold in the BI market, which, in hindsight, was an important move in SAP's growth in the decade that followed.