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SAP reveals its business intelligence product roadmap

SAP will phase out some of its business intelligence (BI) applications in the wake of the Business Objects acquisition.

With the Business Objects acquisition complete, SAP has filled in the details of its business intelligence (BI)...

product roadmap.

Among its BI and corporate performance management offerings, SAP Business Planning and Consolidation, formerly known as Outlooksoft, is now SAP's go-to financial and operational planning tool, the company said, replacing SAP BI-IP, SAP SEM-BPS, Business Objects Planning XI R2, and Business Objects Planning Ext.

For financial consolidation, SAP has replaced its SEM-BCS tool with Business Objects Cartesis, now known as Financial Consolidation, and SAP Strategy Management, formerly called Pilot, is the new tool for managing enterprise-wide business strategy.

SAP's BEx product line, including BEx Report Designer, BEx Web Analyzer and BEx Excel Analyzer, will be phased out completely by 2016.

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In addition, a new SAP MDM offering will be released in 2010, combining elements of Business Objects Data Quality and SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management, though Business Objects Data Quality will still be available as a standalone product.

Vowing to "leave no customer behind," Jonathan Becher, head of marketing for SAP's Business Objects division, said the software maker is offering maintenance and support for most of its phased-out products for around five years, the rate at which companies typically replace enterprise applications.

As for its BI platforms, SAP NetWeaver BI is still available for SAP-only customers, but Business Objects XI, which can access non-SAP data sources and was recently upgraded with new features, is now SAP's flagship BI platform. NetWeaver BI customers can upgrade to Business Objects XI, but they will have to pay a premium to do so. SAP declined to reveal pricing details but did say that the platform will remain vendor neutral.

"It works just as well in an Oracle, Microsoft, IBM environment as it works in an SAP environment," Becher said. "And that's not going to change as a result of this acquisition."

SAP acquired Business Objects in January for $6.8 billion, one of three recent major acquisitions in the business intelligence market, the others being Oracle's purchase of Hyperion in 2007 and IBM's acquisition of Cognos in February. Becher said the combined SAP-Business Objects portfolio bridges the gap between back-end IT infrastructure and front-line business users who make day-to-day strategic decisions.

AMR Research's Dave Kasabian, who first reported the news after receiving -- along with certain other analysts -- a detailed PowerPoint presentation from SAP last week, commended SAP for being upfront with its customers. "[SAP has] done a good job of realizing that you can't keep everything alive forever," Kasabian said. "It may not be good news for some clients, but at least they know."

Kasabian agreed with most of SAP's plans, but he questioned its decision to phase out the BEx product line, in which SAP had recently invested heavily and which enjoys a large user base. He also expected SAP to continue offering Business Objects Planning XI R2, formerly known as SRC, which he said is especially popular with midmarket companies. He was not surprised, however, by SAP's new premium pricing plan for its XI platform, saying the company needed to recoup the nearly $7 billion it spent on Business Objects.

Other details of the announcement include:


  • Business Objects' Crystal Reports is now SAP's main enterprise-grade reporting tool, replacing BEx Report Designer.
  • A new hybrid product, combining elements of BEx Analyzer and Business Objects Voyager, will be released in 2009.
  • A newly enhanced Xcelsius will remain SAP's main dashboard product.

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